Faculty Members

MPI für Chemische Energiekonversion
Prof. Serena DeBeer
Prof. Walter Leitner
Prof. Robert Schlögl

Inorganic Spectroscopy
Molecular Catalysis
Heterogeneous Reactions
MPI für Kohlenforschung
Prof. Alois Fürstner
Prof. Benjamin List
Prof. Frank Neese (Speaker)
Prof. Tobias Ritter
Prof. Ferdi Schüth

Organometallic Chemistry
Homogeneous Catalysis
Molecular Theory and Spectroscopy
Organic Synthesis
Heterogeneous Catalysis
Ruhr Universität Bochum
Prof. Martina Havenith-Newen
Prof. Wolfgang Kleist
Prof. Martin Muhler
Prof. Wolfram Sander
Prof. Wolfgang Schuhmann

Laser spectroscopy and Biophotonics
Nanostructured Catalyst Materials
Laboratory of Industrial Chemistry
Physical Organic Chemistry
Electrochemical Analysis & Sensors
Universität Bonn
Prof. Thomas Bredow
Prof. Stefan Grimme
Prof. Barbara Kirchner

Mulliken Center for Theoretical Chemistry
Universität Duisburg Essen
Prof. Malte Behrens
Prof. Christof Schulz
Prof. Stephan Schulz

Inorganic Chemistry
Inst. for Combustion and Gasdynamics
Inorganic Chemistry

Our Students

Ahmed Al-Kamal
Doctoral student at the 'Institute for Combustion and Gasdynamics' of Prof. C. Schulz

Synthesis of TiO2/graphene nanocomposites to enhance the energy storage and stability of sodium ion batteries:

  • Synthesis of few-layer of graphene in a microwave plasma
  • Synthesis of ultrafine anatase TiO2 by spray-flame synthesis
  • Formation of TiO2-graphene nanocomposites using the wetphase strategy
  • Investigate the performance of sodium-ion battery with a TiO2-graphene nanocomposite anode

Steven Angel
Doctoral student at the 'Institute for Combustion and Gasdynamics' of Prof. C. Schulz

Spray-flame synthesis of perovskite nanoparticles and validation of their activity in catalytic combustion

  • Evaluation of different experimental conditions such as the type, concentration and flow of the solution of precursors and gases into a Spray-Flame Synthesis reactor to obtain perovskite-like oxides LaBO3 (B = Co, Sr, Mn, Ni)
  • Determination of the physicochemical properties of the synthesized perovskites through different analytic techniques such as XRD, TPR, SEM, TEM, ICP-AES and TGA
  • Investigation of the catalytic activity of the synthesized perovskites in correlation with the physicochemical properties of the compounds using combustion reactions such as oxidation of CO and methane as reaction models

Hanna Hinrika Cramer (student representative)
Doctoral student at the department 'Molecular Catalysis' of Prof. Walter Leitner and the department 'Molecular Theory and Spectroscopy' of Prof. Frank Neese

Rational Design of Transition Metal Complexes for the Catalytic Hydrogenation of Carbon Dioxide – A Synthetic, Spectroscopic and Quantum Theoretical Approach

  • Investigation of iron, cobalt, and nickel complexes as catalysts in the reduction of carbon dioxide by hydrogen
  • Spectroscopic characterization of reactive intermediates
  • Quantum theoretical determination of the electronic properties, reaction barriers, and rate-determining steps
  • Investigation of the influence of the ligand architecture on the reaction barriers to determine a structure/reactivity relationship
  • Development of other more efficient catalysts based on the results obtained

Stefan Dieckhöfer
Doctoral student at the group 'Center of Electrochemical Sciences' of Prof. Schuhmann

Coupling of particular anode reactions in bipolar electrolyzers

  • Applying the concept of bipolar electrochemistry to coupled electrolysis systems
  • Quantitative analysis of product distributions (HPLC, DEMS, etc.)
  • Characterize the influence of varying reaction limitations on product selectivities

Roman Elfgen
Doctoral student at the 'Mulliken Center for Theoretical Chemistry' with Prof. Kirchner

Solvents at complex interfaces and as reaction media characterized by spectroscopic, structural and dynamic properties

  • Understanding of pure ionic liquids (ILs) and mixtures: Simulation and analysis in order to gain detailed insight on the molecular level; Discovery and subsequent tuning of working principles by examining fundamental interactions, such as the solvent's (nano)structure in absence and presence of a solute, eventually leading to an increased performance
  • Characterisation of different interfaces: Gain insight into the complex behavior of nanoparticles within highly structured liquids, e.g., the role of nanoparticles and their effect on physicochemical properties and orientation of the IL and how ILs affect the formation of nanoparticles during their synthesis; Examination of solid-liquid and liquid-vapor interfaces; Investigation of chemical reactions in ILs
  • Development of the program TRAVIS for the analysis and visualization of MD trajectories: Implementation of new methods being able to characterize interfaces and the calculation of vibrational spectra, e.g., sum-frequency generation (SFG) spectra
  • The results of the project should help to understand and suggest improved solvents for energy applications in the frame of homogeneous and heterogeneous catalytic processes

Sascha Gehrke



Doctoral student at the 'Mulliken Center for Theoretical Chemistry' with Prof. Kirchner

Understanding of the mechanism of N-heterocyclic carbene organocatalysts at the atomic level, with a special emphasis on the potentially influential solvent and interfacial effects, in order to design environmentally friendly applications, including organocatalysis, biomass processing and carbon dioxide capture.

  • develop force fields for a large number carbenes (CaFF) from state-of-the-art ab initio data
  • perform molecular dynamics simulations of a number of different carbenes in a wide variety of neoteric solvents such as ionic liquids as well as in the context of biomass processing and CO2 capture, including solid-liquid, liquid-liquid and liquid-gas interfaces as well, to characterize in details the key interactions that influence the activity and selectivity
  • investigate how the solvent and carbene precursors cooperate so that the transient carbene and the substrate can react in the catalytic process

Jil-Lorean Gieser
Doctoral student at the group 'Inorganic Chemistry' of Prof. M. Behrens

Investigation of the Liquid-Phase Synthesis of Methanol using IR- and Raman- in-situ Spectroscopy

  • examine the effect of a solvent in methanol synthesis regarding temperature regulation, heat removal, catalyst stability and catalyst performance
  • Utilization of IR- and Raman- immersion probes for in-situ reaction monitoring and sampling
  • Kinetic and mechanistic measurements and calculations
  • Compare results to the gas-phase process

Rebeca Gomez Castillo
Doctoral student at the group 'Molecular Theory and Spectroscopy' of Prof. DeBeer

Theoretical and Spectroscopic Investigations into Biological Methane Oxidation

  • Utilization of HERFD-XANES (high energy resolution fluorescence detected X-ray absorption near edge structure) spectroscopy to identify the electronic structure and coordination environment of metal complexes and proteins.
  • Mössbauer characterization and HERFD-XANES studies of a series of high-valent diiron model complexes of the diirion active site of soluble Methane Monooxygenase (sMMO) to elucidate the electronic structure and core geometry of the key intermediate, MMO-Q. DFT provides additional insight into the spectroscopy, crucial information to understand the mechanism of sMMO.

Julia Krüger
Doctoral student at the group ''Inorganic Chemistry' of Prof. S. Schulze

A mechanistical study on reduction reactions of group 15 compounds with low valent group 13 organyls

  • Syntheses and reactivity studies of group 13/15 compounds by using sterically demanding ligands
  • Characterization of the compounds by using NMR and IR spectroscopy as well as single crystal x-ray diffractometry
  • Performance of quantum chemical calculations to generate an impression of the electronic properties and comparison with the experimental data
  • Investigations to understand the reaction mechanism via in situ NMR spectroscopy

David Kuß (student representative)
Doctoral student at the group ''Molecular Catalysis' of Prof. Leitner

Catalytic Reduction of Carbon Dioxide with Manganese Complexes

  • Screening of catalysts and reaction conditions for the hydrogenation of CO2 via formate esters to methanol
  • Analysis of reaction pathway by mechanistic experiments (e.g. isotope labelling) and DFT modelling of the energy profile
  • Calculation of hydricity as a design tool for new complexes with an improved activity
  • Synthesis of new ligands and manganese complexes
  • Comparison of calculated and experimental properties (e.g. kinetics vs. energy span)

Stanislav Musikhin
Doctoral student at the 'Institute for Combustion and Gasdynamics' of Prof. C. Schulz

Microwave plasma synthesis of graphene and its laser-optical in situ characterization

  • Gas-phase synthesis of graphene by microwave plasma treatment
  • Developing the spectroscopic and heat-transfer models of laser-heated graphene
  • Implementing in-situ laser-optical diagnostics (Laser-Induced Incandescence, Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy, Laser Extinction) to investigate graphene formation process
  • Evaluation of electrocatalytic properties of synthesized graphene and its performance in batteries

Nesli Özkan
Doctoral student at the group 'Physical Organic Chemistry' of Prof. Sander

Stabilization of High Spin Molecules in Polymer Matrices

  • Synthesis of azide precursors of the phenyl nitrenes derivatives bearing bulky and cationic substitutes. Introducing the precursors to Nafion/Na+ membrane matrix via diffusion or ion exchange reaction
  • Generating the nitrenes derivatives at cryogenic temperatures and tracking the thermal stabilization with UV/Vis and EPR spectroscopy while annealing
  • Characterization of the thermal products with matrix isolation IR and Solid State NMR Spectroscopy
  • Measurement of magnetic susceptibility versus temperature with SQUID magnetometer

Sarah Salloum
Doctoral student at the group 'Inorganic Chemistry' of Prof. S. Schulz

Low-Temperature Synthesis of Thermoelectric Group 14 and Group 15 Chalcogenide Nanoparticles by Thermal Decomposition of Tailor-Made Metal Organic Precursors (MOPs) in Ionic Liquids (ILs)

  • Develop new reactive polynuclear IL precursors for the synthesis of phase pure nanomaterials of group 14 and group 15 chalcogenides (SnE, PbE, Sb2E3, Bi2E3, (SbxBi1-x)2E3, (BixSb1-x)2 (TeySe1-y)3; E = Se, Te)
  • Incorporate heavy metal dopants (Ag, In, Tl) to improve TE properties
  • Synthesize NPs using alternative ILs of promising cation/anion combinations to increase the solubility of MOPs and lower the binding affinity of the IL
  • Characterization of NPs via PXRD, SEM, TEM, and EDX

Christine Schulz
Doctoral student at the group 'Molecular Theory and Spectroscopy' of Prof. Neese

Multiscale Computational Modeling of Metalloenzymes

  • DFT investigation of active site geometries of metalloenzymes in the QM/MM scheme
  • establishing structure spectroscopy relations using ab initio wavefunction methods

Nico Spiller
Doctoral student at the group 'Molecular Theory and Spectroscopy' of Prof. Neese

  • Larger iron-sulfur clusters are omnipresent in biological systems, but their electronic structure is not well understood
  • Device models of the electronic structure of iron monomers and dimers to explain experimental spectra
  • Extend the models from dimers to cubanes and the nitrogenase's FeMo-cofactor

Berenike Stahl
Doctoral student at the group 'Mulliken Center for Theoretical Chemistry' with Prof. Bredow

Modeling of catalytic surface reactions under exploitation of phase transitions

  • To find possible applications in catalysis calculations of the surface properties of different VO2 phases and the influence of doping using periodic surface models with GGAs and hybrid functionals
  • Investigation of adsorption properties of molecules on the surfaces
  • Modeling of phase transitions and reactions using the (solid state) nudged elastic band ((ss)-NEB) method
  • Single point DMFT calculations

Milada Teubnerova
Doctoral student at the group 'Nanostructured Catalyst Materials' of Prof. Kleist

Heterogenous Oxidation Catalysis in the Liquid Phase

  • Development of single‐site catalysts based on metal‐organic frameworks (MOFs) containing well‐defined Co and Fe species within the pores of their framework structures.
  • Synthesis of bimetallic Co/Fe oxide catalysts for the same reactions via the controlled thermal decomposition of bimetallic Co/Fe‐containing MOFs.
  • Testing and optimization of reaction parameters in catalytic liquid‐phase oxidation reactions of secondary alcohols and cyclic olefins with developed catalyst materials.
  • Development of a new in situ cell for the investigation of possible metal leaching during the catalytic reactions by using X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS).

Van Anh Tran
Doctoral student at the group 'Molecular Theory and Spectroscopy' of Prof. Neese

Magnetic Response Properties for open shell systems using pair natural orbital coupled cluster theory

  • theoretical investigation of molecular magnetic properties of open shell systems with regard to spectroscopic parameters of electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) measurements
  • implementation of second-order property calculation algorithms, e.g. to compute the g-tensor

Anna Ulpe
Doctoral student at the 'Mulliken Center for Theoretical Chemistry' with Prof. Bredow

Quantum chemical investigation of the electronic properties of spinel ferrites MFe2O4

  • Investigation of the influence of the degree of inversion x (0 ≤ x ≤ 1), the spin configuration, and doping on the optical and electronic properties of [M1-xFex]T[MxFe2-x]OO4 (M = Mg, Sc - Zn)
  • Selection of promising candidates as electrode material for photoelectrochemical water splitting
  • Stability and band gap investigated via self-consistent hybrid DFT calculations
  • Calculation of optical spectra with GW-BSE
  • In-depth investigation of structure-function relationships


Date of Defense Name Title of Thesis Group
Lukas John Computational insights and catalyst syntheses for the electrochemical CO2 reduction Inorganic Chemistry
(Prof. S. Schulz)
Casey van Stappen Fundamental and Practical Spectroscopic Studies Towards Understanding the Electronic Structure and Reactivity of Nitrogenases Inorganic Spectroscopy
(Prof. S. DeBeer)
Niklas Cibura Fundamental studies on catalytic properties of manganese oxides in oxidation reactions Nanobased Heterogeneous Catalysts
(Dr. S. Ristig)
August 2019 Kevin Dzialkowski Dispersionswechselwirkungen in schweren Gruppe 15 Elementverbindungen Inorganic Chemistry
(Prof. S. Schulz)
September 2019 Christian Froese Mechanistic studies on the synthesis of higher alcohols over bimetallic catalysts Laboratory of Industrial Chemistry
(Prof. Martin Muhler)
December 2019 Fatih Özcan Development of Coprecipitated Late 3d Transition Metal Based Catalysts for Energy Conversion Related Applications Inorganic Chemistry
(Prof. M. Behrens)
April 2020 Serena Alfarano THz spectroscopy of aqueous solutions: conditions beyond the ambient Laser Spectroscopy and Biophotonics Research
(Prof. Havenith-Neven)
April 2020 Hrishikesh Joshi Rattle-tape materials with spatially distinct functionalities for the cascaded valorization of glucose Heterogeneous Catalysis
(Prof. Schüth)
June 2020 Mingquan Yu Nanostructured Transition Metal Oxides for Electrochemical Oxygen Evolution Reaction Heterogeneous Catalysis
(Prof. Schüth)
July 2020 Praveen Narangoda Influence of Electrode Structure and Measurement Parameters on the Electrocatalytic Alkaline Oxygen Evolution Heterogeneous Reactions
(Prof. Schlögl)

Coordination Office


Prof. Dr. Frank Neese


Rita Groever, M.A.



c/o Max-Planck-Institut für
Chemische Energiekonversion
Stiftstr. 34-36
45470 Mülheim an der Ruhr

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