Department of Interface Chemistry and Surface Engineering Groups
The seven groups in the Department each have their own independent and strong research agenda, while collaborative research projects are synergistic and focus on major challenges and complex scientific questions that require this scale and interdisciplinarity.
Atomistic modelling of electrochemical processes, interfacial properties and novel materials are central aspects in the work of the Atomistic Modelling Group. Besides on-going method development in the field of post-HF, ab initio method computational studies in close collaboration with experimentalists yield insight into complex phenomena, as simulations can be used to complement experimental results from surface science and spectroscopy.
The research interests of the Electrocatalysis Group are related to electrochemical reactions at the solid-liquid interface, both for corrosion processes and electrochemical energy conversion. The main focus of the group is placed on the concerted investigation of the activity, stability and selectivity of electrode materials for such heterogeneous electron-transfer reactions. Thereby the behaviour of well-defined and real material surfaces are investigated and compared in order to achieve a fundamental understanding of the decisive processes and structural effects. This is achieved by a unique combination of electro-chemistry with complementary techniques for surface characterization and reaction product determination.
The research of the Interaction Forces and Functional Materials Group focuses on the broad areas of adhesion, friction and interfacial forces and their utilization for making new and/or better and especially energy-saving, energy efficient, cheaper, or longer lasting smart materials, interfaces and thin films for application in structural and functional materials. In particular we are also interested in dynamic interaction forces and soft matter physics in confined spaces. Our aim is to gain insight into the fundamental interactions in complex interfacial processes, and to translate fundamental science into knowledge-based design of better and novel structural and functional materials for technological applications.
The Interface Spectroscopy Group focusses on reseach in two different directions:
(1) the design of interfaces for spectroscopic investigations with their application to the study of electrochemical reaction mechanisms and
(2) chemical modification of material's interfaces to tailor surface properties and to investigate failure mechanisms.
The research activities within the Interface Structures and High-Temperature Reactions Group focus on utilizing high-resolution structural techniques and aim at gaining mechanistic insight in processes, possibly on the atomic scale and in situ. Starting form a surface science approach the group activities aim to bridge the complexity gap and pressure gap towards more realistic conditions of processes. This goal is achieved by studying still simplistic surfaces but in realistic environments such as electrolytes or corrosive gas atmospheres. In this line ideally ordered, single-element or (binary) alloy single-crystal surfaces but also systems such as complex, ideally disordered, i.e. homogeneously amorphous alloys are studied.
The main scope of the Molecular Structures and Surface Modifications Group is to address fundamental questions of surface and coating technology by isolating the crucial problems behind them and designing model experiments and model samples for their systematic investigation. A technique of central importance for many research projects within the group is the Scanning Kelvin Probe technique. Based on the world leading expertise in this technique also novel application fields are explored.
The main focus of the Christian Doppler Laboratory for Diffusion and Segregation during Production of HIgh-Strength Steel Sheet is on fundamental diffusion and segregation problems encountered during the different production steps of high strength steel sheet. Cooperation partners are voestalpine and TU Wien. The technical motivation behind this is that the development of high strength steels with their characteristic alloying element composition leads to new challenges for the production and processing of steel sheets in order to meet the product requirements. The focus here is on selective grain boundary oxidation during hot rolling and its consequences for pickling, and on hydrogen detection and its uptake kinetics in different process steps. The related questions are of significant scientific interest and the related research of considerable experimental challenge.