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Catalytic surface science

Depending on the exact project, the student will learn to use, e.g., ultra-high vacuum systems, how to clean and use macroscopic single crystals as model catalysts in catalytic surface science research, and a large range of surface science, supersonic molecular beam, and laser excitation techniques. Depending on the time of arrival, the student may work on adsorption and reactions of water, oxygen and hydrogen on platinum or copper single crystal surfaces, CO2 dissociation on nickel, cobalt or copper, or other topics that catch our interest. We also perform experiments on demonstrations of heterogeneous catalysis, unravelling the background of them, which is often only speculated upon in the literature. The student learns to apply techniques, e.g. reflection absorption infrared spectroscopy (RAIRS), quadrupole mass spectrometry, temperature programmed desorption/reaction (TPD/TPR), low energy electron diffraction (LEED), or supersonic molecular beam techniques. We use flat, but also world-wide unique curved single crystals to investigate differences in reactivity resulting from a variation of surface structure.

  • The project is available in the Fall and Spring semester
  • Number of placements available: 2 per semester.


  • Sophomore level chemistry or physics with strong interest in physical chemistry and/or heterogeneous catalysis.

Faculty Department

Faculty of ScienceLeiden Institute of Chemistry.

The  Leiden Institute of Chemistry (LIC) is organized around two major research areas:

  • Chemical Biology
  • Energy & Sustainability

Our research group contributes to the latter. In the area Energy & Sustainability research is focused on chemical reactions of importance to the sustainable and efficient production and storage of energy. Please check our website for information on our research activities relating to catalysis and surface science.

Offering international students opportunities to study and work here is greatly gratifying. They learn about our ways to conduct science, about the Netherlands, our culture, and our ideas. I have seen that it enriches them, makes them see the world through different perspectives Dr. Ludo Juurlink Read more