Petra de Jongh appointed as Chair of Inorganic Nanomaterials

20. 2. 2014 | Susan

Petra de Jongh was appointed as Chair of Inorganic Nanomaterials at the Department of Chemistry  and the Debye Institute of Nanomaterials Science on 1 February. De Jongh is an expert in catalysts  and related materials that are key for the transition towards sustainably produced fuels and chemical building blocks. Her appointment strengthens Utrecht University’s focal area ‘Energy and Resources’, which focuses on fundamental breakthroughs in the field of sustainability.

“These are exciting times for scientists”, De Jongh says. “A transition from a fossil fuel-based society to one based on sustainable, alternative resources will only be possible by exploring new avenues to design and assemble innovative functional nanomaterials.”

Longstanding tradition
De Jongh is at the forefront of research in the field of reversible hydrogen storage materials. Hydrogen, as an energy carrier, is expected to play a central role in the conversion, storage and usage of energy from sustainable resources.

De Jong’s research contributes to a longstanding tradition of excellence in the preparation and understanding of nanostructured materials at the Catalysis Centre Utrecht. Last year, De Jong reported the discovery of a new method to prepare durable catalysts in Nature Materials. Up to four times longer lifetimes were achieved by careful placement of metal nanoparticles in these materials.

Societal relevance
“My passion is to gain insight in and increase our control over materials on the nanoscale, allowing us to design and assemble them to have the desired functionalities. Finding solutions for a more sustainable use of energy and resources is one of the greatest challenges of our time.”
De Jongh received a Vidi grant for her hydrogen research in 2006. Since then she was closely involved in the National Sustainable Hydrogen programme. De Jongh is one of the principal investigators of the ‘Center for Atomic Level Catalyst Design’, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. Last year, she received a Vici grant for her research on sustainable catalysts.

Programme Director
De Jongh obtained her MSc degree in Chemistry at Utrecht University, as well as a PhD degree under supervision of Professor John Kelly en Daniel Vanmaekelbergh, both cum laude. She worked at Philips Research for five years before returning to Utrecht University as an Assistant Professor in 2004. She has been Programme Director of the interdisciplinary Master’s degree programme Nanomaterials since 2011, and she is highly appreciated as a lecturer by her students.