Arne Thomas raises financial funds from "ERC Starting Grant"

Tuesday, 20. September 2011

Again, the European Research Council supports a UniCat Scientist at the TU Berlin with an "ERC Starting Grant": 1.5 million € for customized nano-networks.

Prof. Arne Thomas

Again, the European Research Council (ERC) awarded one of the coveted ERC Starting Grants to a UniCat scientist at the TU Berlin. The chemist  Prof. Dr. Arne Thomas received the reward of € 1.5 million, which only the best international young scientists have the chance to be granted. With this prize Prof. Thomas wants to advance his research on the development of functional materials. The function and structure of such materials is “customized” in the range of nanometers, to render their application possible in many fields, such as in the field of catalysis.

"I'm very happy about this award. With the approved project, ‘Organic Zeolites - OrgZeo', our work in the field of porous functional materials is given a great impulse," explains Arne Thomas. In the project, for which Arne Thomas wants to extend his research group with the ERC funding, highly porous organic networks are being developed, that correspond structurally to the inorganic zeolites. Zeolites are highly porous silicates, which are widely used for example as ion exchangers in detergents or as catalysts in  petroleum processing. For their application small cavities and channels of only a few nanometers are of great importance. These insure a highly specific surface and a good access to the active sites of the material.

The novel highly porous organic networks that should be produced in the project ‘OrgZeo’ should also exhibit exactly these advantages. That the network structure in these materials is of purely organic nature, should allow the equipment of the pore walls with many functional groups in order to master building for example basic or acidic, polar or nonpolar, metal-coordinating or asymmetric organic networks and "customizing" them for the particular application. Such ‘organic zeolites’ could supplement their inorganic counterparts in many applications, especially where very lightweight or elastic material is needed", says Professor Arne Thomas. "These porous organic networks could serve for instance as gas accumulators, catalysts, or in the field of optoelectronics as organic light-emitting diodes and solar cells." The functionalities and structure of such materials can be adapted or respectively adjusted for each specific application.

Second ERC Starting Grant for UniCat scientists

With the Starting Grants the European Research Council supports internationally outstanding young scientists in establishing or strengthening an independent research group in the area of fundamental research.

For UniCat it is already the second "ERC Starting Grant" since the beginning of the European funding program in 2009. In 2010
Prof. Dr. Janina Maultzsch received the funding for the characterization and control of carbon nanomaterials.

Personal data

Arne Thomas, born 1975, studied chemistry at the Justus-Liebig University in Giessen, the Philipps University in Marburg and at the Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. He earned his doctorate with Professor Markus Antonietti at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces.  Subsequently he then worked with an Alexander von Humboldt postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Santa Barbara / USA in the laboratory of Professor Galen D. Stucky. In mid-2005 he returned to the MPI of Colloids and Interfaces, where he worked as a research group leader and scientific coordinator of the project house "EnerChem", a merger of five Max Planck Institutes, which are jointly developing ‘Nano chemical concepts of a sustainable energy supply’ In mid-2009 he accepted the position as a UniCat professor of inorganic chemistry (functional materials) at the Technical University of Berlin. The group of Arne Thomas deals with both porous inorganic and organic materials, as well as inorganic-organic hybrid materials.