Master Thesis: "Stability of protected photoanodes"

The Helmholtz Institute Erlangen-Nürnberg for Renewable Energy (HI ERN) is an institute of Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, with a focus on storage technologies for renewable energies. Aspart of Prof. K. Mayrhofer’s research unit “Electrocatalysis” the group “Electrochemical Energy Conversion” - led by Dr. Serhiy Cherevko – is mainly working on catalyst evaluation for (photo-)electrochemical water splitting and fuel cells. Thereby strong emphasis is put on the stability of those materials.

Photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting is a promising way of harnessing solar energy and produce green hydrogen. One of the longstanding challenges in this area is to find photoanode materials with long-term stability in aqueous electrolytes to perform the oxygen evolution reaction (OER). Different surface modifications, such as the deposition of a co-catalyst or a stable oxide on the photoanode, have been explored to improve photoanodes stability. The use of operando techniques helps to uncover how the protective overlayers improve the stability of photoanodes. Therefore, in our group, we use online inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS, see Figure 1) to track dissolution of metals during the photoelectrochemical experiments.

Your job during the master thesis will be the preparation and characterization of nanostructured photoanodes (Fe2O3). The photoanodes will be modified with metal oxide co-catalysts using automated electrodeposition. The main goal is to research how the co-catalysts affect the stability and activity of the photoanode using the ICP-MS.

Master Thesis: "Stability of protected photoanodes"
Fig.1. ICP-MS setup: The optical components consist of: (I) 300 W ozone-free Xe lamp, (II) focusing lens, (III) AM 1.5 G filter, (IV) monochromator, (V) filter wheel with different cutoff filters, (VI) focusing assembly, and (VII) liquid light guide.

We offer...

… an excellent, international and interdisciplinary working environment with leading experts in the fields of research. Flexibility to shape the master thesis’ topic to applicants interests and qualifications.

We are looking for...

… motivated students with excellent grades in the fields of chemistry, chemical engineering, material science or physics, who like to work in international teams. Therefore, besides good scientific basics, appropriate English skills are required. Basic knowledge in electrochemistry is preferable, but not essential.

Are you interested?

Please write a short mail with a CV and your transcript of records attached to Dr. Victoria Benavente Llorente ( and Msc. Ken J. Jenewein (

Last Modified: 01.08.2022