Arno van Hoof

Research Project – Emiel Hensen/Arno van Hoof

In this research project, you have the opportunity to investigate catalytic processes on the nanoscale. You will investigate the formation of a high potential nanomaterial; Carbon Nanofibers. The project is multidisciplinary; techniques include wet-chemical synthesis procedures, X-ray characterization techniques and catalytic testing in a reaction setup. There is also the possibility to get involved in High-Resolution Transmission Electron Microscopy to view the catalyst on an atomic scale.   

Carbon Nanofibers (CNF) have gained much interest due to very high strength, chemical purity, chemical inertness and unique electronic properties. The highly versatile material has a wide range of applications; from the application in electronic components, as a polymer additive, for gas storage or as a catalyst support material.

The CNF are produced in a catalytic process where a gaseous C-containing precursor is fed over the heterogeneous catalyst. The catalysts typically consists of Nickel nanoparticles on an oxide support, such as silica or alumina. In the reaction mechanism, the carbon precursor (typically methane) is decomposed on the metallic surface, forming Nickel carbide. Subsequently, the Nickel carbide is decomposed into metallic nickel and graphite layers, which will squeeze out the nickel nanoparticle and push it forward during the growth of the CNF (see Figure).

In heterogeneous catalysis, there are many examples of nanoparticle size effects. This is also the case for the growth of CNFs in relation to growth rate and final CNF diameter. In this research project, you have the opportunity to investigate the influence of the nanoparticle size on the rate of CNF-growth and final CNF diameter. The ultimate goal is the synthesize CNF with a very well-defined diameter.

The work can contain a wide range of experimental work and characterization techniques; wet-chemical methods will be applied to synthesize the catalytic system. To fully characterize the synthesized materials, techniques like Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS), ICP (Inductively Coupled Plasma)  and X-ray diffraction (XRD) will be applied. With the opportunity of TEM being a vital part of the research. Finally, the synthesized materials will be tested in a reaction setup, again followed by characterization. In addition, for high quality images, High Resolution Transmission Electron Microscopy and Tomography (creating a 3D image of the material) can be used. 

It is always possible to adjust the project to your own skills and preferences. For further information you can contact us at all times. 

Possible projects

1.         Gain control over the Nickel particle size, what is its influence on the final CNF  


2.         Investigate the influence of the carbon precursor on the final CNF

3.         Ask us for up-to-date information!



For further information:

Emiel Hensen  (Helix 14, W 3.35, Tel 5178,

Arno van Hoof (Helix 14, W 4.33,