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With a contribution from the NWO 'Materials for Sustainability' programme (Mat4Sus), four projects that include researchers from the UvA are about to begin. Mat4Sus encourages interdisciplinary material research to facilitate a smooth transition from fossil fuels to sustainable energy sources. The nature of the projects is both public-private and fundamental.


The transition to sustainable energy sources requires new materials; materials to store or release energy efficiently, for example, or to convert energy from warmth or chemical energy into electricity. The four studies will take important steps forward in the development of materials that are cost-effective, long-lasting and can contribute to our supply of energy in a clean manner.

Solar cell instead of automotive paint

Laurens Siebbeles (TUD), Tom Gregorkiewicz (UvA), Peter Schall (UvA), Partners: Delft University of Technology, Toyota Motor Europe, University of Amsterdam
In this project, the partners will develop new materials and designs for ultra-thin, light, flexible and inexpensive to produce high-efficiency solar cells. These solar cells are intended to be used on surfaces with irregular shapes, that have limited space or must be flexible in their movement. An example would be the outside of an electric car. The researchers will adapt recently discovered and promising materials in such a way that these will capture as many colours of the sunlight as possible for efficient conversion into electricity. They will show how to use these materials to create a well-functioning, thin and flexible solar cell with as high an energy return as possible.

Prof. dr. P. (Peter) Schall

Faculty of Science

Van der Waals-Zeeman Instituut

Fuel from a greenhouse gas 

Jarl Ivar van der Vlugt (UvA), Joost Reek (UvA), Dennis Hetterscheid (UL), Stefiana Grecea (UvA), Partners: Leiden University, ECN 
Carbon dioxide is an unwanted and useless product in our current society. The researchers want to develop new catalytic materials that can convert CO2 into liquid fuels. In order to make this conversion and the required materials as sustainable as possible, the team from Amsterdam and Leiden will use cheap materials, such as iron, as catalysts and make use of sunlight and renewable electricity. The ultimate goal is a first prototype of a real ‘device’ that converts water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and CO, an ideal starting material for the synthesis of high-energy fuels.

Prof. dr. J.N.H. (Joost) Reek

Faculty of Science

Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences

Dr. S. (Stefania) Grecea

Faculty of Science

Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences

New materials for safe and long-lasting batteries

Petra de Jongh (UU), Moniek Tromp (UvA), Peter Ngene (UU), Partners: University of Amsterdam
This project is about the development of new solid electrolyte materials to arrive at a new generation of lithium-ion batteries that not only store more energy but are also safer and last longer.

Prof. dr. M. (Moniek) Tromp

Faculty of Science

Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences

Meta solar cells with an improved functionality

Albert Polman (AMOLF/UvA), Andrea Alù (University of Texas), Partners: University of Texas, ECN (Petten), Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (Freiburg), University of New South Wales (Sydney) and California Institute of Technology (Pasadena)
In this project a new method will be developed to increase the absorption and conversion of sunlight in solar cells with the aid of metagratings; surfaces and interfaces structured on the nanoscale. The metagratings, made up of a periodic grid of light diffusers in a specially designed form, enable the diffusion of light colours in the solar cell over a well-defined angular distribution. Through the integration of metagratings in solar cells, the researchers will produce high-efficiency solar cells, ultra-thin flexible solar foils and coloured and transparent solar panels for applications in the built environment.

First step in NWO materials research

The Materials for Sustainability programme is the first step in the development of a larger scale materials programme for the Netherlands. Through its contribution to the top sectors Energy, Hi-Tech Systems and Materials (HTSM) and Chemistry for 2018-2019, the NWO offers a broad range of financing options for materials research under the title ‘Materialen NL'. It allows for public-private collaboration as well as fundamental research.