Designing Disorder: Structure design, synthesis and characterization of nanostructured and amorphous energy materials

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Kirsten Jensen


University of Copenhagen


DKK 4,914,007




Semper Ardens: Accelerate


The green transition is dependent on development of new materials for the energy technologies of the future. It is the atomic structure of a material that determines its properties, and over the past decades, we have as chemists obtained an understanding of this structure-property relation for the materials we now use in technologies such as batteries and catalysis. It has recently been shown that amorphous materials may have enormous potential for e.g., electro- and photocatalysis. However, the fact that the materials are amorphous, challenges current characterisation methods, and this hinders material development, as we cannot map structure/property relations. With this project, we will develop new methods for analysis of atomic structure for amorphous materials.


Amorphous materials are interesting for a range of different technologies, but both their synthesis and properties are much less studied and understood than their crystalline counterparts. This relates to the difficulty in characterizing and classifying atomic structure, as no routine methods for reliable atomic structure characterization in amorphous materials are available. This makes any materials design difficult. The methods developed in this project can be used for structural characterization of a range of new materials. Specifically, we will study structure/property relations in amorphous and disordered oxides with potential for electro- and photocatalysis.


We will use X-ray and neutron scattering methods for studies of atomic structure in disordered materials. In order to extract atomic structural models from the data, we will develop a new method for analysis, using data base mining and Machine Learning methods. While these methods will be interesting for a range of materials, we will specifically focus on amorphous and disordered oxides for electrocatalysis. Apart from studying the materials themselves, we will also use in situ methods to follow and understand both their formation, as well as their use when applied in catalysis. This will provide completely new insights into amorphous and disordered functional materials.

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