In situ & operando hard/soft X-ray spectroscopy and complementary laboratory techniques applied to energy conversion technologies, electrochemical processes & catalysis

X-ray spectroscopy is applied in a wide variety of scientific fields such as molecular and condensed matter physics, materials sciences, chemistry, earth science, and biology: its unique sensitivity to local atomic structure, (in contrast to X-ray diffraction, which probes long-range order) is exploited to study the electronic structure and chemical speciation of a large fraction of the elements within the periodic table. 

Within the SPECTROSCOPY Cluster several experimental facilities are available which offer a range of soft and hard X-ray techniques to provide varying depth and positional sensitivities - from near-surface (a few nanometers), two-dimensional measurements to study localised electronic and chemical structural states, to bulk three-dimensional investigations for the study of amorphous solids, liquids and solutions, doping and ion-implantation materials for electronics, organometallics, metalloproteins, and metal clusters. 

X-SPEC s a high-flux beamline dedicated to electron and soft & hard x-ray spectroscopy of materials relevant for energy applications. Covering a wide energy range from 70 eV to 15 keV, X-SPEC provides two experimental stations which offer x-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS), extended x-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS), photoelectron spectroscopy with soft and hard x-rays (PES/HAXPES), as well as x-ray emission spectroscopy (XES) and resonant inelastic x-ray scattering (RIXS).

As part of the Synchrotron Laboratory for Environmental Studies, the SUL-X beamline is dedicated to investigation of environmentally-relevant materials, for example contaminated soils, mining dump sediments, (which may consist of mixtures of amorphous and crystalline mineral phases with micrometer or nano-scale particle sizes, microbes, and in some cases vegetable material). Spatial distribution, speciation, and phase association of trace levels of contaminants provide insigths into environmental risk assessment and remediation strategies for problematic elements such as arsenic, lead, and even actinides such as uranium.

XAS is a general-purpose beamline for X-ray spectroscopy investigation of bulk materials. Current research is focused on materials with nano-sized dimensions possessing novel chemical or macroscopic properties, for example H-storage materials based on Ti-clusters, catalytic systems as nanostructured traps for SOx, anode and cathode materials for rechargeable batteries, or Ni-doped nano-carbon-tube systems for tunable magnetic properties.

The MFE (Materials For Energy) laboratory is dedicated to study of the chemical and electronic structure of surfaces and interfaces of applied materials systems, such as thin-film solar cells, catalysts, and electrochemical devices. Electron and soft x-ray spectroscopies are employed to conduct experiments together with collaboration partners at the KIT Institute for Chemical Technology and Polymer Chemistry (ITCP) and other partners around the world (e.g., the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas – UNLV).