VUBInstitute: Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Research unit: SURF – Research group of Electrochemical and Surface Engineering
Researchers: Tom Hauffman, Iris De Graeve
Project: SHARC
The research group of Electrochemical and Surface Engineering -SURF- is part of the department of Materials and Chemistry –MACH- in the Faculty of Engineering at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. SURF concentrates its research around 5 cross-linked areas in electrochemical engineering, (nano) surface engineering and their combination, each supported by dedicated professors.

I. Electrochemical engineering: electrochemical process investigation and design in dedicated hydrodynamically controlled electrochemical reactors. (Prof. Annick Hubin)

II. Electrochemical modelling: computational electrochemistry and development of CAD integrated design and manufacturing software for the simulation of electrochemical processes to predict and optimize processes and production (high speed processes, reactors etc.), durability of materials (corrosion and protection methods etc.), use of energy. (Prof. Johan Deconinck)

III. Corrosion technology: investigation of electrochemical corrosion mechanisms, development of monitoring and rapid screening methods, characterisation of protection methods (inhibitors, organic coatings, etc.), corrosion management etc. (Prof. Annick Hubin; prof. Yves Van Ingelgem)

IV. Functional surface engineering: surface processing and design of metals –chemical and electrochemical- on the nanometer scale for the creation of functional properties such as corrosion protection, appearance, adhesion, hydrophobic / hydrophilic properties etc. (Prof. Iris De Graeve)

V. Surface characterisation: in-situ and ex-situ chemical and morphological surface characterisation of materials (before, during and after surface or electrochemical processing) to a lateral and depth resolution in the nanometer scale for better understanding of performance. (Prof. Herman Terryn)

The SURF group counts on and off around 55 people of which 3 fulltime professors, 4 part-time research professors, and on average 8 postdocs, 25-30 PhD students, and 12 technical, scientific assistance and administrative staff members. Together these people form a World class community actively in pursuit of excellence in electrochemical and surface engineering. SURF is recognized as IOF Centre of Excellence within VUB. In all the research fields a multiple research strategy is employed based on complementary macroscopic and local electrochemical methods, computational software for process simulation, and in-situ/ex-situ surface analytical techniques (vacuum and optical). SURF is in the unique position of having advanced technology of all these research tools in-house. SURF has research collaborations with research institutes and industries in Europe, Japan, America and Australia.