Last year Professor Angela Lueking was awarded a highly competitive Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship to partner with researchers at the University of Crete to study basics of hydrogen adsorption and diffusion on surfaces. The Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship is open to top non-European researchers to work on projects in Europe. The fellowship helps to develop research cooperation between Europe and other parts of the world.
The fellowship provided Lueking with funding for one year to work and live in Crete. Her work at the University of Crete has focused on synthesizing catalyzed nanoporous materials that have superior hydrogen uptake and moderate pressures using the hydrogen spillover mechanism. Hydrogen spillover involves the addition of a catalyst to a high-surface area microporous support, such that the catalyst acts as a source for atomic hydrogen, the atomic hydrogen diffuses from the catalyst to the support, and ideally, the support provides a high number of tailored surface binding sites to maximize the number of atomic hydrogens interacting with the surface.
Lueking has been working alongside George Froudakis from the University of Crete, whose theoretical calculations (with George Psofogiannakis, a current Marie Curie fellow) provided the first multi-scale modelling of the hydrogen spillover mechanism. Their work is incredibly timely, as the hydrogen spillover mechanism has become highly controversial in the past two years, due largely to discrepancies between laboratories, and even variations of the magnitude of uptake observed for materials prepared with near-identical techniques within the same laboratory.
Lueking recently presented a seminar at the University of Crete to summarize her findings as her fellowship draws to a close. She presented a combined approach of in situ spectroscopic techniques and theoretical multi-scale modelling calculations that are being used to resolve the hydrogen spillover mechanism and illuminate the nature of the exact surface sites and structures responsible for the high uptake in select materials. Her seminar discussed the first direct spectroscopic evidence of a reversible room temperature carbon-hydrogen wag mode, and how this experimental data was used to modify model chemistry in density functional calculations.
Ultimately, the goal of this project is to not only resolve the hydrogen spillover controversy, but to use the findings to design new materials for hydrogen storage and catalytic hydrogenation as well as explore an extended collaboration to combine the work of Lueking and Froudakis.