Materials and Surface Chemistry Group

Department of Inorganic Chemistry
Faculty of Chemistry

The research team is headed by prof. Andrzej Kotarba, with 3 permanent academic members (PhDs), 1 post-doc, 5 PhD students, and also master and bachelor students. The group-specific scientific infrastructure is based in three laboratory rooms equipped with basic and specialized apparatus. The research infrastructure allows to perform characterization of catalytic materials in terms of composition (elemental composition), electron properties (work function), materials’ stability (thermal, dispersion) and procatalytic tests (surface reactivity). Moreover, surface characterization of implant materials (surface energy, contact angle, stability), functionalization and characterization of polymer/carbon materials surfaces can be performed routinely. Typical studied materials include metals, metal oxides, polymeric materials, carbon materials, commercial catalysts, and biomaterials. The available apparatus include, but is not limited to: Kelvin Probe (McAllister KP 6500), XRF (ThermoFisher ARL Quant’X), NTA (Nanosight LM10), Contact angle (OEG, Surftens universal), Thermogravimetric analysis (Mettler Toledo TGA/DSC1), Temperature-programmed tests (TPR, TPO, TPD, surface reactivity – custom set-ups), Plasma generator (Diener Electronic, Femto), sonicator (Qsonica, Q500), centrifuge (Eppendorf, 5430 R), custom build dip coater, laboratory freeze dryer (Christ, Alpha), custom build species resolved – thermal alkali desorption setup, compact mass spectrometer (Hiden, HPR-20 QIC).

The main scientific mission of the Materials and Surface Chemistry Group is to understand phenomena and processes occurring at the interfaces (solid/gas, solid/liquid, solid/biological system), and apply this knowledge to preparation of surfaces with tailored properties. Research objectives are focused on purely fundamental issues, such as electron properties of the surfaces and the microstructure of new materials, as well as on the practical aspects related to the surface investigations of working catalysts, the surfaces of carbon materials and medical implants. The unique features of the studies of catalytic materials are optimization of surface electronic properties, analysis of surface alkali species, and catalytic tests of active phases both in powder and structured forms. Functionalization of carbon materials includes the use of a low-temperature oxygen plasma for the generation of functional groups and/or surface amorphization. Model carbonic surfaces and functional composites in which metallic or oxide nanoparticles are embedded in a carbon matrix are investigated experimentally and by molecular modeling. Materials for biomedical applications, are modified and functionalized towards their usage as implants providing the most important functions, such as corrosion resistance, biocompatibility, antibacterial action, therapeutic action. Additionally, an interaction of biological systems (eukaryotic cells, bacteria) with various materials are also investigated.