UIBK - Institute of Physical Chemistry (Team Leader: Prof. Julia Kunze)

The University of Innsbruck (UIBK) is a public university. The University was founded in 1669 and is the biggest and most important research and education institution in western Austria, today comprising more than 27.500 students and more than 4.500 staff and faculty members. Located in the heart of the Alps, the University of Innsbruck offers the best conditions for successful research and teaching, and international rankings confirm the University’s leading role in basic research. The chair of Nano- and Materials Chemistry held by Prof. Julia Kunze-Liebhäuser, located in the Institute of Physical Chemistry of UIBK, addresses the topics of energy conversion and storage, with a strong focus on the fundamental insights in this area. The group has a strong experience in the field of Material Science and Electrochemistry, with a specific competence on the carbothermal treatment to transform oxides into oxycarbides. Also strong expertise on anodization of Ti to prepare TiOx compact films or nanotubes and on electrodeposition of metal nanoparticles (NPs) is provided. Different fuel cell technologies are investigated to explore new catalysts, electrode materials, membrane electrode assemblies and their transport properties. The group is also interested in the correlation between structure and activity of model catalysts: a broad experience in electrochemical scanning tunneling microscopy (EC-STM) is used in the group for fundamental studies and to investigate the relationship between nanoscopic structure of single particles and their activity.

Relevant experience:

Dr. Kunze is actively involved in studies of TiNT film growth since 2005 (see section 1.1). TiNTs arrays with different shape and morphology (length, diameter, wall thickness, smoothness) have been produced and characterized in terms their of growth mechanisms. The knowledge gained will now be used in DECORE. A project focused on the carbo-thermal conversion of compact TiO2 films has started in October 2009, for which a basic understanding could be already obtained (see section 1.2). Noble metal catalyst particles are being deposited on these surfaces by aerosol assisted deposition (AAD) and electrochemistry (EC). Both AOR and ORR are being investigated for these systems.

Role in the project and main tasks:

The focus of Dr. Kunze’s group is on the preparation and characterization of TiOxCy converted flat films, TiNTs and powders. The group is doing electrochemistry (EC) and in-situ scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM) measurements on these systems to determine conductivity, stability and activity towards the EOR. In collaboration with ULL, differential electrochemical mass spectrometry (DEMS) is employed to investigate the mechanism of the EOR under different conditions and with varying systems.


Two multichannel potentiostats equipped with electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) modules, glass and teflon cells for half-cell electrochemical experiments and for growing titania nanotubes, and a high temperature EC half-cell for AOR measurements. Two state-of-the-art scanning probe microscopy (SPM) systems, equipped with EC-STM, electrochemical Atomic Force microscopy (EC-AFM) (tapping and contact mode, conductive AFM), Magnetic Force Microscopy (MFM) and Scanning Electrochemical Potential Microscopy (SECPM). Two furnaces for annealing experiments are mainly used for carbothermal conversion experiments. A setup for AAD is used to decorate electrodes with catalyst NPs. Other in house equipment includes a powder XRD, XPS, SEM, TEM.

Key persons:

Prof. Julia Kunze-Liebhäuser has numerous productive national and international collaborations. Her scientific work is published in 48 scientific papers and has been presented at international and national conferences on a regular basis. Her scientific research is currently devoted to materials production and characterization for fuel cell and lithium (Li) ion battery applications. In particular, she is investigating reduced valve metal oxides to be used as catalyst support materials and as anodes in Li ion batteries. Her group combines material science and physical chemistry with focus on the investigation of the solid-liquid interface for a basic understanding of important processes in electrocatalysis and in batteries.

Celine Rüdiger (Ph.D. candidate) is responsible for the currently running project focused on the carbo-thermal conversion of compact TiO2 films that has started in October 2009.

Dr. Carlos Valero-Vidal (Postdoc) is performing DEMS and EIS investigations.

One postdoc (full) and 1 Ph.D. (3/4) position over three years are charged to the DECORE project.