Project description

Nitrogen fixation is one of the key reaction enabling life on earth. Indeed, the reduction of atmospheric dinitrogen into ammonia, makes reactive forms of nitrogen available for plants and animals to grow. In 1920’s the Haber Bosch process industrialised the nitrogen fixation reaction and thereby helped respond to the increasing food demand of the growing population. However, Haber Bosh process is very energy demanding (high pressure and temperature). In fact it is estimated to be accountable for 2% of the  world CO2 emission footprint. Sustainable alternatives, where nitrogen reduction is achieved under ambient conditions, are therefore actively sought-after. The proposed project aims to develop new catalytic materials capable of promoting air trapping in order to increase the yield of nitrogen reduction into ammonia. This project is conducted in collaboration with Prof Mougel and his team from ETH, Zurich. A range of nanoengineered metal surfaces will be created via electroetching and hydrophobized using plasma polymerization. The substrates that best trigger the formation of nanostructure-induced air pockets and the formation of superwetting states will be tested for nitrogen fixation.

Further information

About the supervisor: I will be joining Flinders University as a member of the College of Science and Engineering and the Institute for Nanoscale Science & Technology in November 2021. My research is intrinsically cross-disciplinary, using surface science and chemistry to develop new nanotechnology for the biomedical and energy fields.

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