Research facilities

DIFFER's role as a national institute makes it possible to operate research facilities beyond the scope of individual university groups. These facilities help DIFFER to develop its insights from fundamental research towards a scale relevant for industrial application. Our highly experienced in-house engineers and workshops design, manufacture and operate DIFFER's facilities.

Our mid-sized laboratory setups Magnum-PSI and Ion Beam Facility offer unique opportunities for researchers and collaborators. In addition to these larger facilities are well-equipped lab clusters for optics or materials research dedicated to the Solar Fuels research.

Magnum-PSI - materials under fusion reactor conditions

Fusion reactors like ITER and its successors will expose materials to intense heat and particle impacts where the hot plasma exits the magnetic cage onto the exhaust wall. How can we design a reactor wall to withstand an environment as extreme as at the surface of the sun? Magnum-PSI is the world's only laboratory facility that can test materials under conditions relevant for ITER and future nuclear fusion reactors. An extensive set of diagnostics allow for detailed studies of evolving materials properties.


Magnum-PSI wolfram mock up & beamline
Left: Magnum-PSI tests ITER wall materials, setting a world plasma fluence record. Right: overview of Magnum-PSI with the connection to DIFFER's Ion Beam Facility (bottom right).

Ion Beam Facility - in-depth studies of energy materials

What happens to materials that are exposed to the extreme conditions in a nuclear fusion reactor? How to improve the catalytic properties of materials and surfaces in easing chemical reactions? DIFFER’s Ion Beam Facility is the only one of its kind in the Netherlands. The 3.5 MV ion accelerator offers a suite of ion beam analysis techniques that allow researchers to characterize (sub-)surface material properties and investigate processes in materials for fusion energy, solar fuels and other topics (read more).

Ion Beam Facility
The first spectra taken with the Ion Beam Facility represent a silicon substrate with a thin film of silicon carbide on top. Elastic back scattering was used as a trial run of the facility and shows that the system can distinguish between different materials. Photo: the facility's ion source.

Solar Fuels laboratories – understanding chemistry from atomic to macroscale

The Solar Fuels theme within DIFFER focusses on the storage of photons and electrons in form of fuels and feedstock. What processes and (nano)materials can use sunlight to break and form molecular bonds? How to synthesize chemicals using renewable electrons in (plasma-activated) electrochemistry?

To study and understand the underlying processes, we use techniques from different disciplines. For instance, we bring together photo- and electrocatalysis, plasma and materials science, or process and system engineering. DIFFER has a flexible lab infrastructure which hosts dedicated table-top sized set-ups that uniquely combine these fields.

Additionally, DIFFER has an extensive number of more routine materials synthesis and characterisation tools as well diagnostics equipment such as electron microscopes, Raman and FTIR spectrometers and (tunable) laser facilities from the ultraviolet to the infrared.