Our Competences

The capabilities of the lab cover the range from processing materials, to characterizing and understanding physical & chemical properties (both experimentally and computationally), to evaluating the performance and upscaling the technology to a pilot / semi-industrial production. We work with partners both from academia and industry.

Our research and competences are geared towards a broad range of energy and building applications. We have strong expertise in processing, synthesis and characterization of multi-functional porous or mesoporous silica, polymeric or composite materials, so-called xerogels and aerogels. Furthermore, we use sol-gel processes for the synthesis of functional materials such as thin films, adsorbents and mixed-oxide materials.

Materials synthesis and processing

  • Sol-gel synthesis of porous materials
  • Pore structure engineering
  • Inorganic (silica, carbon)/ organic (synthetic and bio- polymer based) aerogels
  • Organic / inorganic composite materials
  • Systematic modification of physical properties by chemical modification of aerogels
  • Ambient and supercritical drying
  • Thin-film deposition (spin or dip coating)

Characterization & testing

  • Thermal insulation properties
  • Mechanical properties
  • Electron microscopy (SEM, TEM)
  • Spectroscopy (solid state NMR, FT-IR, UV-Vis)
  • X-Ray tomography (TOMCAT), scattering and imaging techniques
  • Surface and pore structure characterization (pore size, porosity, pore shape; BET)

Upscaling & product-development

  • Development of new high-performance insulation products
  • Scale-up of production technology for industrial manufacturing of aerogels
  • Consulting for building implementation of new building materials

Theoretical Methods and Modelling of Materials

Fields of Competences:
  • Screening/selection of materials for sorption applications.
  • Modelling of thermal and mass transport in porous materials.
  • Gelation of colloidal gels.
  • Adsorption in porous materials.
Modelling methods:
  • Classical molecular dynamics
  • Metadynamics
  • Metropolis and Grand Canonical Monte Carlo
  • Statistical Aggregagion Methods (DLA, DLCA and others)
  • Lumped materials model for coupled heat and mass transport
  • Atomistic modelling of porous materials and colloidal systems
  • Statistical Analysis of experimental results

Dr. Shanyu Zhao
Group leader in Functional Aerogel Materials Group

Phone: +41 58 765 4244

Dr. Sandra Galmarini
PhD Materials Science_ Atomistic Simulation of cementitious systems, EPFL

Phone: +41 58 765 4066