Christophe Detavernier - COCOON

Onderstaande beschrijving is in het Engels:

Born in 1975 in Bruges, Belgium

  • PhD degree from Ghent University in 2001
  • Postdoctoral researcher at IBM T.J. Watson Research Center 2002 – 2004
  • Professor at Ghent University since 2005
  • Current research interests : atomic layer deposition, in-situ metrology during growth/annealing of thin films



Conformal coating of nanoporous materials

CONTEXT - Nanoporous materials are used for application in catalysis, molecular separation, energy storage, fuel cells, etc. Given the near molecular size of the porous network, it is challenging to modify the interior surface of an existing material. Therefore, the synthesis of nanoporous materials is often approached as a one step process (e.g. sol-gel synthesis) and all aspects of the structure (pore size distribution, catalytic sites etc.) need to be optimized during this single step.

THE ERC PROPOSAL – The aim of this project is to explore Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) for engineering the interior surface of nanoporous materials after their synthesis. This would enable a two-step approach, where one first focuses on the production of a nanoporous scaffold (using existing methods), followed by ALD to engineer the presence of catalytic sites on the pore walls and to engineer the pore size by controlling the thickness of the deposited film.

ALD is a self-limited growth method that is characterized by alternating exposure of the growing film to precursor vapours, resulting in the sequential deposition of (sub)monolayers. It provides atomic level control of thickness and composition, and is currently used in micro-electronics to grow films into structures with aspect ratios of up to 100 / 1.  We believe that the unique characteristics of the ALD method offer the potential for breakthroughs in fields where ultra thin coatings are required on non-planar or porous substrates with aspect ratios in excess of 1,000 / 1, such as catalysis, sensors, fuel cells, filtration membranes etc..

POTENTIAL IMPACT – The project aims at generating generic expertise in using ALD for atomic level engineering of porous materials. We plan to focus on three specific applications:

  • Chemical functionalization of the pore walls for applications in catalysis and sensors
  • Controlling the pore size distribution for applications in molecular separation and filtration
  • Nanocasting for the production of nanotubes and replicas of nanoporous structures