Prof. dr. R.H.H.G. (René) van Roij

Prof. dr. R.H.H.G. (René) van Roij

Cond-Matter Theory, Stat & Comp Phys
+31 30 253 7579

“The methodology of Theoretical Physics can really be used anywhere in society.”


Research: solid-liquid interface

Research largely involves the solid-liquid interface, typically between water or oil on the one hand and glass, rock, or nanoparticles on the other. In conventional materials the presence of these interfaces only gives small corrections to material properties, but in nanomaterials, with their huge surface area as large as a square kilometre per litre, these solid-liquid interfaces completely change and dominate the properties. This gives rise to a plethora of new physical phenomena with a variety of potential applications in e.g. water desalination, harvesting and storing electric energy, micro- and nano-fluidics, and catalysis.

For instance, we develop and test models for the electric and thermal properties of so-called supercapacitors, which are porous carbon electrodes filled with ionic liquids or water. But we also study transport of water, charge, and salt through narrow channels, which finds not only finds direct applications in harvesting blue energy from mixing river- and sea water, but has also revealed very strong effects of fluid flow on the chemistry and charge of the channel surface. We also run projects on liquid crystals, active matter, the action potential in neurons, and artificial kidneys.


Although the nature of our work is theoretical (pencil-and-paper) and numerical (computer) and takes place within the Institute for Theoretical Physics, there are many collaborations with experimental and simulation groups, especially with physics and chemistry groups in the Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science but also elsewhere in the Faculty of Science (biology, pharmacy) at Utrecht University, nationally, and internationally.

Soft-Matter Theory