The Birkel group performs a lot of electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction and structural analysis on these materials. They are very special in that these materials can be exfoliated, that is, one layer of “A” elements in the structure (usually aluminum) can be etched out very selectively and you can end up with 2D materials (so called “MXenes”). These 2D materials are macroscopic in two dimensions and nanoscopic in the third. These materials have many potential applications including in the field of catalysis.

Birkel’s group is also active in the field of catalysis and is investigating the electrocatalytic properties of these materials, but at the same time they are asking a lot of very fundamental questions about how their synthesis techniques influence the structure and morphology of these compounds.

Where the 2D materials are concerned, it’s important to discover how the surface chemistry evolves during the exfoliation process. They are looking at how they can manipulate the surface chemistry and ultimately how that influences the catalytic properties.


Jenny Green

Clinical associate professor, School of Molecular Sciences