"What is Canada without maple trees? The scenic bench on my everyday walk to campus (Waterloo)."

Stanislav Musikhin is back from his research year in Canada.

Report from Stanislav Musikhin:

My Canadian experience was very positive. I had a chance to learn from and work with the brightest peers at the University of Waterloo and the National Research Council of Canada, which is the Canadian analogue of the Max Planck Institute Society.
There were many things that pleasantly surprised me during my stay, one of which was the feeling of equity on the campus. Graduate students and Professors are considered equals. More than that, on the Engineering Day students get a chance to make Professors fall in a bucket of water during one of the contests. I could not miss such an opportunity with my Professor! As Canadians would say: "It's nice, eh?"

Overall, a Canadian University and Canada in general, is the place where you see how people with different backgrounds can successfully live and work together, and how such an international environment enriches the science. I am grateful to have an opportunity to work at the University of Waterloo and the National Research Council of Canada during my PhD years and hope that Germany-Canada research collaboration will grow even bigger because it definitely made me grow.

Mingquan Yu
Praveen Narangoda

Mingquan Yu and Praveen Narangoda are happy about successful defenses.

Mingquan Yu and Praveen Narangoda successfully defended their theses. Mingquan Yu studied in the group 'Heterogeneous Catalysis' under the supervision of Prof. Ferdi Schüth (MPI für Kohlenforschung) and defended his thesis "Nanostructured Transition Metal Oxides for Electrochemical Oxygen Evolution Reaction" on June 29th, 2020. Praveen Narangoda, doctoral student in the group 'Heterogeneous Reactions' under the supervision of Prof. Robert Schlögl defended his thesis "Influence of Electrode Structure and Measurement Parameters on the Electrocatalytic Alkaline Oxygen Evolution" only a few days later on July 1st. Like some other students before, both had to defend their dissertations via video chat due to the current situation. We congratulate Mingquan Yu and Praveen Narangoda on their success.

Hirshikesh Joshi (top left) after successfully defending his dissertation in a video chat.

Hrishikesh Joshi defended his dissertation via video conference.

Hrishikesh Joshi, doctoral student in the group ''Heterogeneous Catalysis' under the supervision of Prof. Ferdi Schüth (MPI für Kohlenforschung) successfully defended his thesis (Rattle-tape catalysts with spatially distinct active centers for the cascaded valorization of glucose) on April 22nd, 2020. Like Serena Alfarano before, Hrishikesh Joshi had to defend his dissertation via video chat due to the current situation. We congratulate Hirshikesh on this success.

Serena Alfarano directly after her successful defence. She mastered the unusual situation very professionally and confidently.

Serena Alfarano defended her dissertation under unusual circumstances.

On March 23rd, the PhD student in the group 'Laser spectroscopy and Biophotonics' under the supervision of Prof. Martina Havenith-Newen (RUB) successfully defended her thesis with the title "THz spectroscopy of aqueous solutions: conditions beyond the ambient". Due to the special circumstances of the current time, the defence took place virtually in a video conference. We congratulate Serena on this success.

IMPRS retreat in Nottuln

Mülheim Graduate School extended by 6 years

The cooperation in form of the International Max Planck Research School RECHARGE between the Max Planck Institut for Chemical Energy Conversion, the Universities Bochum, Bonn, Duisburg-Essen, and the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung continues for further six years. The school will continue to serve the purpose of providing a structured educational program for Ph.D. students. The program includes in-depth scientific courses as well as various soft-skill trainings.

Since its foundation in 2015, the International Max Planck Research School for Reactive Structure Analysis for Chemical Reactions (IMPRS-RECHARGE) has accepted 29 doctoral students; six young scientists have successfully defended their doctoral thesis so far. Following a very successful evaluation in summer 2019, the IMPRS-RECHARGE has now been extended by the Max Planck Society until 2026.

The goal of the IMPRS is to establish the unification of catalytic concepts in the education of specialists being trained towards a rational design of catalytic systems. To this end, the historic divides between molecular catalysis with dynamical structures and heterogeneous catalysts with assumed static structures must be overcome. IMPRS-RECHARGE has implemented a program to train doctoral students in a combination of advanced quantum chemical methodologies directed to the understanding of spectroscopic information with the ability to observe catalysts at work by suitable in-situ spectroscopy.

The structured doctoral program, which concludes with a doctorate, extends over a period of three years. Graduates of chemistry, physics and related subjects can participate. Starting in late summer, excellent Master's students can apply for one of the coveted doctoral positions. The best applicants will be invited to a selection colloquium and, if accepted, can start their doctorate in January 2021.

The International Max Planck Research Schools (IMPRS) are an integral part of the Max Planck Society's doctoral program since 2000. Talented young scientists are given the opportunity to do their doctorate under excellent conditions. There are currently a total of 65 IMPRS, 28 of them in the chemical-physical-technical section, 25 in the biological-medical section and 12 in the human sciences section.

Fatih Özcan (2nd f. r.) and his examiners (Prof. Stephan Schulz, Prof. Malte Behrens and Prof. Eckhard Spohr) after successfully defending his doctoral thesis

Fatih Özcan successfully defended his doctoral thesis

Fatih Özcan, who studied in the group 'Inorganic Chemistry' of Prof. Behrens headed by Prof. Malte Behrens at the University Duisburg Essen successfully defended his dissertation with the titel "Development of Coprecipitated Late 3d Transition Metal Based Catalysts for Energy Conversion Related Applications" on December 3rd, 2019. Congratulations to Fatih!

Poster prize winner Van Anh Tran

Posterprize for Van Anh Tran

With her poster "Towards the accurate prediction of EPR parameters by wave function based methods" presented at the 55th Symposium on Theoretical Chemistry, IMPRS-RECHARGE student Van Anh Tran won a poster award last month in Rostock. Her poster deals with the implementation of a method for calculating the g-tensor, a molecular property measured in EPR spectroscopy.Congratulations!

Christian Froese and his examiners after successfully defending his doctoral thesis

Christian Froese graduated

On September 30, 2019, Christian Froese, doctoral student in the 'Laboratory of Industrial Chemistry' headed by Prof. Martin Muhler at Ruhr University Bochum, defended his doctorate successfully. The title of his doctoral thesis is "Mechanistic studies on the synthesis of higher alcohols over bimetallic catalysts". He is already the fourth graduate of IMPRS-RECHARGE to complete his doctorate in 2019. Congratulations Christian.



September 5th-7th, Vulkanhotel Steffeln, Germany

The students of the IMPRS-RECHARGE program got together in the Eiffel for three days, exchanging ideas, experience and discussing scientific topics. RECHARGE Partner Prof. Malte Behrens, University Duisburg/Essen and Dr. Bernd Lenders, Head of Process Chemistry at Lanxess, joined for a scientific contribution and as guests in a podium discussion about "Career as Chemist", representing both the academical and industrial career option and giving valuable insights and advice. The event ended with a scenic hike through the volcanic landscape of the Eiffel followed by a BBQ.


Already the second graduate in August.

Kevin Dzialkowski, doctoral student in the 'Inorganic Chemistry' working group headed by Prof. Stephan Schulz, defended his doctorate at the University of Duisburg-Essen on August 19, 2019. After Niklas Cibura, Kevin Dzialkowski is already the second graduate to successfully complete his doctorate this month. Congratulations Kevin.


Niklas Cibura celebrates the defense of his doctoral thesis

Niklas Cibura, who studied in the group 'Nanobased Heterogeneous Catalysts' lead by Dr. Simon Ristig (former Prof. Jenniger Strunk) and in the department of Prof. Robert Schlögl, is the third IMPRS-RECHARGE student to defend his dissertation since its founding in 2015. The title of his doctoral thesis, which he defended on August 12th, 2019, is "Fundamental studies on catalytic properties of manganese oxides in oxidation reactions". Congratulations to Niklas!


IMPRS-RECHARGE collaboration is growing

Stanislav Musikhin, IMPRS-RECHARGE student and PhD candidate at the University of Duisburg-Essen, will go for a year research year to the University of Waterloo in Canada, to work with Prof. Kyle Daun. During his PhD, Stanislav will spend two years in total at the University of Waterloo, modeling the graphene­­­–light interaction, while the experimental part of the project has been done at the University of Duisburg-Essen. We are happy that IMPRS-RECHARGE students are gaining valuable international experience, and wish Stanislav a productive year in Canada.


Summa cum laude - Casey van Stappen defended his doctoral thesis

Casey van Stappen is the second IMPRS-RECHARGE student to defend his dissertation since the founding of the Research School in 2015. The title of his doctoral thesis, which he defended on 17.06.2019 at the Ruhr University Bochum, is "Fundamental and Practical Spectroscopic Studies Towards Understanding the Electronic Structure and Reactivity of Nitrogenases". After Lukas John, Casey is the second graduate of IMPRS-RECHARGE. Casey was a PhD student in the group 'Inorganic Spectroscopy' under the supervision of Prof. Serena DeBeer and will remain in the group after completing his PhD thesis as a postdoc at MPI CEC. Congratulations to Casey.


2nd IMPRS-RECHARGE Symposium - Catalysis Towards Greener Chemistry

The symposium, "Catalysis Towards Greener Chemistry" (CTGC-2019), was held at the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung which was organized by students of the IMPRS-RECHARGE. The symposium enabled participants to discuss the approaches and insights from different fields of catalysis (heterogeneous, homogeneous, bio catalysis as well as technical aspects) in the common context of green and sustainable chemistry. It has become more and more clear with time that the commonly used energy resources are either getting exhausted or pose serious environmental concerns, making it essential to hunt for alternative solutions. To this end, the symposium served as a great platform to discuss solutions by the development of new technologies at a molecular level with fundamental insights and at an industrial level with efficient implementations.

Over the span of four days, the symposium included keynote lectures by Frank Neese, director of the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung, Beatriz Roldán Cuenya, director of the Fritz-Haber Institut of the Max-Planck-Society in Berlin, Ulrich Schubert, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Jena, Peter Styring, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry at the University of Sheffield, and Stenbjörn Styring, Professor of Molecular Biomimetics at the Uppsala University. The scientific programme also included 17 invited talks by academic researchers, 7 contributed talks by participants and a poster session.

The symposium welcomed over 60 participants from all over the world including countries like Turkey, United Kingdom, Sweden, India, China, France, Saudi-Arabia and Spain. In addition to the scientific aspects, participants also enjoyed a delicious barbecue served in the Mensa garden on 22nd May, 2019. The day ended with a poster session, with over 25 posters, which gave participants a chance to discuss their work in detail. The two poster prizes were awarded to Eduard Glöckler (University of Duisburg-Essen) and Marcell Papp (Budapest University of Technology and Economics) at the closing ceremony on 23rd May, 2019.

The students of IMPRS-RECHARGE had a great time organizing this symposium and learnt immensely from this experience. Overall, the event was a humongous success and all the participants including the keynote speakers and invited researchers enjoyed the symposium thoroughly.


Lukas John first IMPRS-RECHARGE Graduate

Lukas John passed his thesis defense on December 14, 2018 at the University Duisburg-Essen. The dissertation topic is "Computational insights and catalyst syntheses for the electrochemical CO2 reduction". Lukas John carried out his doctoral research at the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry, Faculty of Chemistry under the supervision of IMPRS-RECHARGE member Prof. Dr. Stephan Schulz.

At the end of his IMPRS-RECHARGE program Lukas will give a public lecture entitled "Electrocatalytic CO2 Reduction" at the MPI für Chemische Energiekonversion on January 23, 2019, and is thus the first graduate of the International Max Planck Research School on Reactive Structure Analysis for Chemical Reactions (IMPRS-RECHARGE).


Poster Prize for Steven Angel

2018 Materials Research Society (MRS) Fall Meeting

Steven Angel, IMPRS-RECHARGE student and PhD candidate at the Institute for Combustion and Gas Dynamics a University of Duisburg-Essen, participated in the 2018 MRS (Materials Research Society) Fall Meeting that took place in Boston on November 25-30, 2018.

He was awarded the highly competitive Best Poster Award for the “Nanomaterials and Nanomanufacturing for Sustainability Symposium”. Congratulations to Steven!


Poster Prize for Mingquan Yu

51st German Catalysis Meeting

From March 14-16, 2018 the 51st German Catalysis Meeting took place in Weimar, organzied by the DECHEMA. Mingquan Yu, one of our IMPRS RECHARGE students took part in the event and won a poster award.

He got the prize for giving a short presentation at the posterworkshop "Electro Chemical H2 / O2 Evolution". His poster presented a novel method by using sustainable template to synthesis large-scale transition metal oxide nanoparticles for electrochemical water oxidation.

The German Catalysis Meeting is one of the most important European events in catalysis. More than 600 experts from universities, research institutes and industry meet annually to exchange their ideas and share new developments and the latest results in all areas of catalysis.

More information can be found on the DECHEMA Website.


New findings about Q

MPI CEC employees publish in JACS

Due to the diverse applications of methanol, whether as a fuel source, fuel additive or for power generation via fuel cells, it is of scientific and industrial interest to develop economical and sustainable methods for the production of industrial quantities.

The enzyme methane monooxygenase (MMO) catalyzes the oxidation of methane to methanol. In nature, two variants of this enzyme exist. The soluble MMO (sMMO) features a diiron core in its active center, while the particulate MMO (pMMO) utilizes copper. While a detailed understanding of the structure of these enzymes in all of its catalytic states is crucial for an in-depth insight of the reaction mechanism, scientists have debated for years about the structure of the key intermediate Q in sMMO.

Rebeca Gómez Castillo, PhD student at the IMPRS RECHARGE, and Prof. Serena DeBeer, director of the department ‚Iorganic Spectroscopy’ at MPI CEC, in a collaborative effort with the research groups of Prof. Lawrence Que Jr. and Prof. John D. Lipscomb of University of Minnesota, performed a detailed study on the controversial structure of the active site of intermediate Q.

This research was based on the local technique Kα HERFD-XAS (high energy resolution fluorescence detected X-ray absorption near edge structure), a powerful tool that overcomes the limitations of conventional x-ray absorption spectroscopy. When compared with synthetic model complexes spectra and supported by quantum chemical calculations, the analysis of the Kα HERFD-XAS data provides valuable information for clarifying the controversial structure of intermediate Q.

The study is published in the "Journal of the American Chemical Society" (JACS).

Find the publication in JACS:

High-Energy-Resolution Fluorescence-Detected X-ray Absorption of the Q Intermediate of Soluble Methane Monooxygenase

J. Am. Chem. Soc., Article ASAP DOI: 10.1021/jacs.7b09560


Publication of IMPRS RECHARGE student in Faraday Discussions

Sascha Gehrke and colleagues in renowned journal

Sascha Gehrke, student of our IMPRS RECHARGE in the group of Prof. Barbara Kirchner, has succeeded in placing a publication in the Faraday Discussions journal together with colleagues. Faraday Discussions is a scientific journal published by the Royal Society of Chemistry, which publishes original research papers presented during a Faraday Discussions Meeting.

The publication, in which Mr. Gehrke is lead author, is about a method by which the (diffusion-corrected) exchange rate of weak interaction partners in liquids can be determined from computer simulations. The method includes corrections to take account of the effects of the random mixing of the liquid.

The special thing about a publication in Faraday Discussions is that you do not simply submit articles there as usual, but authors are invited to publish something, which can then be extensively discussed at a Faraday Discussions meeting. The topic of the corresponding Discussions Meeting was "Ionic liquids: from fundamental properties to practical applications". Sascha Gehrke and his colleagues were invited to participate in the discussion and thus to the issue with a publication.

Short summary:

Liquid properties are the result of a subtle interplay between various attractive and repulsive interactions that make their prediction notoriously difficult. These interactions may be strong, as those between two charged species, or weak, as those leading to the formation of hydrogen bonds. Questions, such as how long does a hydrogen bond live, or how long do two ions aggregate are thus at the heart of theoretical chemistry research on liquid systems. The answer, however, is hardly ever trivial, especially in complex liquids, where a myriad of other processes couples to the elementary dynamic processes of interest. While statements such as “a hydrogen bond may only form, after two particles have approached each other” sound trivial on paper, advanced and state-of-the-art methods are required to uncouple the random motions of particles from the bond formation process. In the article, we apply such a method to study the hydrogen bond and ion pair dynamics of ionic liquids. The chosen approach is not only a robust way to isolate the target processes, but additionally reveals valuable information about other dynamical processes, which are only slightly understood to date.

Gehrke, S., M. von Domaros, R. Clark, O. Hollóczki, M. Brehm, T. Welton, A. Luzar, and B. Kirchner. (2017) Structure and lifetimes in ionic liquids and their mixtures, Faraday Discussions, doi: 10.1039/C7FD00166E



Students of the International Max Planck Research School on Reactive Structure Analysis for Chemical Reactions organized their first conference

Catalysis for Sustainable Chemical Energy Conversion (CSCEC)
September 17th - 21st, 2017

About 100 international scientists from various fields of catalysis research participated in the IMPRS-RECHARGE Scientific Symposium at the NanoEnergieTechnikZentrum (NETZ). The five-day event took place at the campus of the University of Duisburg-Essen from September 17-19, 2017.

The conference titled "Catalysis for Sustainable Chemical Energy Conversion (CSCEC2017)" focused on current developments in catalytic processes for sustainable energy conversion with the aim of a climate relevant decrease of CO2 emissions.
The keynote lectures concentrated on general concepts of catalysis for sustainable energy conversion, such as the electro-catalytic water splitting for the production of the climate neutral energy carrier hydrogen as well as the syngas conversion for the synthesis of high-energy fuels from CO2. Additionally, the conference offered the opportunity to discuss several presentations and poster contributions from the registered participants.

The numerous registrations and the broad thematic range of the conference contributions made the symposium a truly successful event. It was organized by the students of the IMPRS-RECHARGE and will be held regularly. Further information on the conference can be found on the CSCEC website.


High-performance computer for IMPRS students

Since the end of 2016 the IMPRS-RECHARGE students can use an own computer cluster that is attached to the existing high-performance computer at the MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion. Such a computer cluster expedites the calculations of molecular structures so it helps the students to understand the molecular basis of chemical energy conversion processes. The processing capacity of a conventional computer is not sufficient for such complex calculations.

Dr. Frank Wennmohs, teamleader of the ORCA-group at the MPI CEC, explained that due to the implementation of theoretical techniques with high-performance computers chemical phenomena can be elucidated and even predicted. Thus theoretical methods build a bridge between theory and experiment of which research in general and especially the doctoral projects of our students can benefit.



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