PhD defense Olga Lushchikova: The structure and reactivity of gas-phase copper clusters
Friday 27 August, Olga Lushchikova successfully defend her thesis titled 'The structure and reactivity of gas-phase copper clusters'. Her research contributes to the understanding of the catalytic process of methanol formation, which might lead to the development of more efficient catalytic materials.
Copper clusters may act as a model system to investigate the interaction between molecules such as CO2, H2, and CH4 with the active site of a catalyst. Lushchikova investigated the structure of products resulting from the reaction of copper clusters with these molecules using the light from the FELIX free-electron lasers.
prof. dr. Kirilyuk and dr. Lushchikova
The main focus of her research was understanding the elementary steps of methanol formation from CO2 and H2 over copper-based catalysts. By studying the reactions of copper clusters of different sizes and charges with CO2, H2, and its co-adsorption, Lushchikova was able to unravel structural and electronic effects that might play a role during copper-catalyzed processes. The information is obtained at the molecular level with the powerful combination of IR-spectroscopy with the light provided by FELIX and FELICE, mass spectrometry, and density functional theory calculations.
Promotor: prof. dr. A.I. Kirilyuk
Co-promotor: dr. J.M. Bakker
Video: Olga tells about the element copper and her research on the role of copper nanoparticles in the production of sustainable fuels.
“Although the experiments with copper were not always easy, I really enjoyed my time at HFML-FELIX. The people and the atmosphere are so welcoming and supportive, that I never felt hopeless even when everything failed. There is always room for fun and nice conversations, great parties, and tasty dinners. The organization, building, and lab space are all top-level and it was a pleasure to work there. I will truly miss this time, and hope to come back to obtain new exciting results.”
Olga's work with copper clusters is not over yet. She was awarded a Lise Meitner Fellowship from the Austrian Science Foundation FWF to continue her research on the catalytic activity of clusters at Innsbruck University. Here, the main focus will to find out how doping Cu clusters with other elements affects the activation of CO2.