Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Splitting Water with Sunlight. Ellen Backus receives ERC Grant

21.06.2013
Ellen Backus, who is working at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz, is studying a reaction for environmentally friendly generation of hydrogen. The EU commission has given 1.5 million euros for her to further her research.

The European Research Council awards the ERC Starting Grant for top-level early-career scientists to Ellen Backus, who is working at the MPI-P. The physical chemist will receive funds for her scientific work amounting to 1.5 million euros for the next five years.

With this grant Ellen Backus aims to research the process of splitting water with titanium dioxide and sunlight. She will extend her research group and invest in high-performance measuring devices. "I’m really looking forward to actually watching water molecules during a reaction," Backus says.

Generation of Hydrogen

The native Dutchwoman came to the MPI-P together with director Mischa Bonn from Amsterdam in 2012. Among other things, she is conducting research on the process of photocatalytic water splitting, i.e. the decomposition of water by solar energy. In 1972 Japanese scientist discovered that water in contact with titanium dioxide (TiO2) can be split into hydrogen and oxygen when exposed to sunlight. It is still not completely understood, however, what kind of molecular processes occur during this photocatalytic splitting process. A crucial point is to study how water molecules behave on the interface with titanium dioxide, and how these molecules bind. Ellen Backus aims to watch the interaction of those molecules before, during and after the water splitting.

To do this she uses laser pulses to cause a vibration of the molecules, and then she measures the resonance of the molecular vibration. This allows conclusions to be drawn about the dynamics and interaction of the molecules. In a second step, a further laser pulse takes over the sun’s task: It splits the water molecules.

The pulses are comparable to the flashes of a stroboscope, but with durations of femtoseconds, which are 10-15 of a second. With these ultra-short time intervals it is now possible to sequentially record how the molecules move on the one hand and how they split on the other.

The photocatalytic splitting of water has great potential to produce hydrogen in an ecological and economic way. As previously forecasted, hydrogen as a source of energy will play a decisive role for covering energy requirements in future; however fewer losses have to be achieved during the reaction for it to become economical. Ellen Backus’ scientific work is concentrated on the fundamental processes that occur during splitting in order to understand the energy transport, and the molecules’ bond behavior.

ERC Starting Grants are among the most prestigious grants awarded by the European Research Council for world-class researchers. They give the opportunity for top-level early-career scientists to conduct fundamental research and establish or consolidate their own research team. According to the ERC, last year, 500 research scientists and their projects were funded with a total of about 800 million euros.

Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research

The Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research, which was founded in 1984, ranks among the world-wide leading research centers in the field of polymer research. The focus on so-called soft materials and macro-molecular materials has resulted in the worldwide unique position of the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research and its research focus. Coworkers from Germany and abroad are conducting fundamental research on both production and characterization of polymers as well as analyzing their physical and chemical properties. In the beginning of 2013 a total of 551 people were working at the MPI-P. The work force was made up of 112 scientists, 173 doctoral and diploma students, 71 visiting scientists, and 195 technical, administrative and auxiliary staff.

Stephan Imhof | Max-Planck-Institut
Further information:
http://www.mpip-mainz.mpg.de/179485/PM8-13eng

More articles from Awards Funding:

nachricht Scientist at Kiel University receive EU funding to develop new implantats
22.11.2017 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Tracking down the origins of gold
08.11.2017 | Heidelberger Institut für Theoretische Studien gGmbH

All articles from Awards Funding >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Underwater acoustic localization of marine mammals and vehicles

23.11.2017 | Information Technology

Enhancing the quantum sensing capabilities of diamond

23.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Meadows beat out shrubs when it comes to storing carbon

23.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>