MSc project: tuning structure and surface strain of Fe nanolayers for solar fuel catalysis

Please note: unless otherwise specified, the internships are only available for students with a nationality of an EU-member state and/or students from a Dutch university.

DIFFER (Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research) is one of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) institutes and focuses on a multidisciplinary approach to energy research, combining physics, chemistry, engineering and materials science. The institute is based on two main strands, solar fuels for the conversion and storage of renewable energy and fusion-energy as clean and unlimited source of energy. DIFFER is developing and supporting a national network on fundamental energy research and is closely collaborating with academic institutions, research institutes and industry. The institute is located in a new building at the campus of Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e).

MSc project: Tuning structure and surface strain of Fe nanolayers for solar fuel catalysis

The computational MSc thesis project is part of a theory-experiment collaboration effort between DIFFER and our industrial partner. The overall aim is to understand the fundamentals of new Fe-based model catalysts, and to tune them further for the Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthesis of fuels using renewable energy. The fundamental aim is to know how Fe metal layers grow on different Cu metal substrates and how these newly grown Fe layers behave during the adsorption of atomic and molecular species, such as H, C, O, and CO, which are all needed for the synthesis of commercially valuable fuels. The fresh experimental data already gives us some insight into the structures, chemistry, and morphology of the new model catalysts. As a complementary tool, in this MSc thesis project we plan to use density functional theory (DFT) calculations to provide accurate information on the growth of Fe monolayers on Cu(100) and Cu(111) surfaces. Additionally, we aim to predict the binding interactions of atomic and molecular species on these new model catalyst structures to estimate their catalytic performance during the FT reactions.


Intended level: MSC, ideally a 9-12 months project

Expertise needed: computational chemistry, computational materials science, past experience or interest in DFT calculations preferred.

Further information: 

Dr. Süleyman Er, tel: +31 (0) 40 333 4936, email: s [368] er [28] differ [368] nl

Research group websites: and

Autonomous Energy Materials Discovery [AMD] Research Group, DIFFER, Eindhoven.

Application procedure: 

Please apply via email including your CV to: s [368] er [28] differ [368] nl

Go to the Vacancies page.