Nanomaterials for Sustainability

The central research theme of the Debye InstituteĀ is "Nanomaterials for Sustainability". Research focuses on the synthesis, performance and modeling of nanomaterials often for conversion, storage and more efficient use of energy. The institute provides fundamental knowledge for development of new technologies that are required for achieving a sustainable future.

The instituteĀ brings together six research groups from the departments of Chemistry and Physics.

These groups collaboratively work on three research themes:


Research focuses on the controlled design and characterization of the active site in heterogeneous catalyst systems and on nanoscale macromolecular engineering of novel homogeneous catalysts.

Fundamental understanding of the basic mechanisms and properties will lead to synthesis routes that are more efficient and environmentally friendly, and to novel renewable chemicals, medicines, energy conversion mechanisms and materials. The program combines the existing top-ranking expertise on optical and X-Ray spectroscopy, nanomaterials chemistry and macromolecular chemistry to study the subthemes.


Research focuses on the synthesis, characterization and study of novel strongly interacting colloid systems.

In an approach where theory, experiment and state-of-the-art computer modeling are combined the research is centered on the following themes:

  • The design, synthesis and characterization of novel colloidal particles, both in the nano-size range and above, with special materials properties and/or interparticle interactions, often with a specific self assembly step in mind which follows the creation of the fundamental building block(s).
  • The study of self assembly processes that take place in concentrated colloidal dispersions by real space and scattering techniques and how these self assembly processes can be manipulated by external fields.
  • The design and characterization of new advanced materials based on control over the bottom-up self assembly of colloidal building blocks into novel 1D, 2D and 3D arrangements.

Research focuses on the interaction of light and nanomaterials on a scale smaller than the optical wavelength.

Worldwide developments at basic and applied levels in the young field of nanophotonics are rapid and are already leading to new technologies in the "photon century": nanophotonic materials for communication, solar cells, displays, data storage, sensors, nanolithography and nanomedicine. The program utilizes the existing strengths in ultrafast spectroscopy, atom optics, thin film physics and colloid synthesis to study the following interrelated themes.