Dr. Dominik Halter

Dr. Dominik Halter

Liebig Junior Group

Which research topics are you focused on in your working group?

We explore the electrocatalytic synthesis of organic molecules from the perspective of electro-active catalyst species. In essence, we are interested in designing new electrocatalysts, in an attempt to synthesize them and to mechanistically investigate their electrocatalytic reactivity. Our second mainstay is to mimic the ligand environment of promising molecular electrocatalysts in metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) to obtain precisely understood reactivity of metal complexes in process-friendly heterogeneous electrocatalysts. The direct electrocatalytic hydrogenation of C=C, C=O & C≡N bonds – without the usage of H2 gas – is a core component of our research. For example, biomass can be electrochemically converted into basic and fine chemicals, or chemical energy carriers can be synthesized to store renewable electricity better than in gaseous H2.

How is the schedule and content of a research internship designed at your working group?

Research internships have a time frame of 4 to 6 weeks, ideally as a continuous block internship, but if necessary, the working time can be arranged flexibly.

In the beginning, different topics for concrete internship projects are discussed. Of course it is possible for students to propose their own ideas – as long as they fit the expertise of our research group.

Once a suitable project has been found, a preliminary literature research follows. For the preparation of the written report the literature research is necessary anyway. But I am convinced that those who are well aware of the context of their project, before starting the internship, have more fun in researching, bring up better ideas, and work more efficient.

The practical work itself then consists of: 1) the synthesis of molecular or material-based electrocatalysts, or 2) the electrochemical and spectro-electrochemical study of electro-organic reactions, or 3) the immobilization of molecular catalysts on electrode surfaces, or 4) combinations of these points.

Which synthetical methods are used for the respective topics?

Depending on the research topic, these would be classical organic ligand synthesis, organometallic chemistry using Schlenk techniques and with work in the glovebox, solvothermal synthesis of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), pyrolysis, and electrochemical syntheses by electrolysis / electrocatalysis.

Is a progress/final talk about the research internship planned?

A progress or final talks is not mandatory but can be arranged if requested. For feedback and potential troubleshooting during the internship, we can discuss this personally and do not need a formal presentation.

With which working groups are overlapping topics possible?

In principle, we are of course open for cooperation with any chairs and working groups, and new synergies arise with new projects. Currently there is a intensive collaboration with the Chair of Inorganic and Organometallic Chemistry (Prof. R. A. Fischer), as well a occasional collaboration with the group around Prof. T. Nilges and Prof. A. S. Bandarenka from the Physics department.

How and in what way can one apply for a research internship at your working group?

Don’t hesitate to contact me or my staff at any time via email or in person.

What kind of previous knowledge is required for a research internshipat your working?

Essential is a confident handling in the laboratory, preferably basic knowledge of organic and inorganic synthesis, great would be experience with electrochemistry, as well as the standard analytical methods (NMR, GC, UV-Vis, MS, IR, PXRD).

Individual points are extremely dependent on the project and mor important than specific prior knowledge are eagerness and interests in the project – in case of doubt, everything necessary can be studied and trained with us.

Can a research intership be expanded to a master’s thesis?

Of course!

How much cake does your chair expect?

Imagine that you have baked a large, rectangular sheet cake. You cut the finished cake into equally sized rectangular pieces. Half of the people like edge pieces, but the other half definitely don’t want to get a piece with an edge. For what number of people can you divide the cake in such a way that everyone gets one piece according to their preferences and none is left with empty hands?

… we prefer to solve such complex tasks experimentally instead of just imagining it 😉

Is it an advantage of small working groups, that there is more cake for everyone?

It is a great advantage that we are a member of the AMC chair! Since we form a cheerful, solidary community with a penchant for cakes, a cake is distributed among many hard-working group members – but in return, we as a smaller working group very often have cakes, together with the opportunity for entertainment and also productive conversations.