Since my appointment at the TU Vienna in 2010, my research group has utilized a multi-technique approach to understand the atomic-scale processes underlying catalysis on metal-oxide surfaces. My research combines surface structure determination, spectroscopy and scanning probe methods. Iron oxides are a major focus of my work as they are omnipresent in the natural environment and find widespread applications in technology. In 2015 I was awarded the FWF START prize (€ 1.2M over 6 years) to study the mechanisms of single atom catalysis, and in 2020 I received an ERC consolidator grant.
Most relevant scientific results
- Unambiguously determined the structure of the Fe3O4(001) surface using a multi-technique approach . This was the first paper to demonstrate a surface reconstruction based on subsurface cation vacancies, which is likely common for spinel oxides.
- Demonstrated that CO adsorption is a primary cause of sintering in “single-atom catalyst” systems .
- Used atomically-resolved STM to show how Mars-van Krevelen processes proceed on metal-oxide supported catalysts . This work showed that spinel systems prefer bulk interstitial defects to surface oxygen vacancies.
- Demonstrated that the atomic-scale structure ultimately defines how reactants adsorb on single atom catalyst systems  (together with Franchini). This work clearly shows that we can control the location of metal dopant atoms within the metal oxide host.
- Showed that CO-induced sintering could be used to create size-distinguished Pt clusters . The process was followed atom-by-atom using STM. This work also clearly demonstrated the phenomenon of redisperison, and showed it was caused by CO desorption.
- Studied complex water structures formed on metal oxide surfaces, e.g., ref.  (together with Franchini). In general, my work in this area has demonstrated the importance of partial dissociation as a stabilization mechanism in such systems. We have shown that nc-AFM is an ideal technique to study the structure of water adlayers.
- Contributed an invited perspective article to Catalysis Letters where I explain why the atomic scale structure is vital to understand the performance of single-atom catalysts .
- Wrote an extensive monograph detailing the structure and properties of iron oxide surfaces . This paper is already highly cited, and features a large section about doping Fe3O4 with other metals to make ternary spinels.
- Studied water adsorption on a strontium ruthenate perovskite . We showed that the ternary of the oxide leads to important differences to the respective SrO surface.
- Performed pioneering measurements of iron oxide surfaces in liquid water. Our images showed that immersion leads to the growth of an oxyhydroxide phase .
- 2021–present: Full Professor (Surface Reactivity); Institute of Applied Physics, TU Wien
- 2017–2021: Associate Professor; Institute of Applied Physics, TU Wien
- 2015–2017: Assistant Professor; Institute of Applied Physics, TU Wien
- 2010–2015: University Assistant; Institute of Applied Physics, TU Wien
- 2009–2010: Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Physics, Tulane University, New Orleans LA, USA (supervisor U. Diebold)
- 2007–2009: Postdoctoral Researcher, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland WA, USA (supervisor B.D. Kay)
- 2016: Habilitation in Experimental Physics, TU Wien, Austria
- 2007: Ph.D. in Physics (Dr. Phil.), Warwick University, U.K.
- 2004: M.Phys. in Physics, Warwick University, U.K.