Awards / Selected publications

A collaborative effort of the teams from Universities in Aarhus, Geneva and Louvain-la-Neuve (Yaroslav Filinchuk of IMCN Institute), as well as from the Helmholtz Center in Geesthacht, has lead to a comprehensive review of 70 pages in the prestigious journal "Chemical Society Reviews", covering the chemistry of borohydrides. These compounds are seen as perspective hydrogen stores for energy applications, and more recently they appear as multifunctional materials with remarkable properties of ionic conductivity, gas adsorption, CO2 recycling etc. Despite this class of compounds was first seen as simple ionic salts, complex coordination chemistry was revealed for the borohydride anion, paving a way to rational design of new functional materials.   DOI: 10.1039/c6cs00705h


Dr. Ronggang CAI has been granted the PhD Award in the field of Material Science for his work entitled “Nanoimprinted ferroelectric polymer layers for organic memory devices and multiferroism “ by the Royal Belgian Society of Microscopy (RBSM vzw).
The RBSM awards up to three prizes annually to members who have successfully defended their PhD thesis on a microscopy-related subject in Belgium in one of the following three areas: Life Sciences, Physics and Material Sciences and Instrumentation and Methods. Theses are judged on their contribution to the advancement of microscopy in Belgium. This include the development of new methods or instrumentation, application of existing methods in new fields of research, use of techniques new to Belgium, or the demonstration of the power of microscopy by extensive use of microscopy data. The term microscopy is used in a broad sense, including all techniques providing information with a spatial resolution better than the naked human eye, and supporting techniques such as image analysis.


In the frame of her PhD thesis, Josefine Schnee (IMCN Institute / pole MOST), team of Eric Gaigneaux, and teaching assistant at the faculty of bioscience engineering) demonstrated for the first time that hexagonal boron nitride (BN) is an excellent support for H3PW12O40 Keggin units (KU) used as catalysts for the gas phase 100% selective methanol-to-dimethylether (DME) reaction at 150°C. Only mildly interacting with the KU, BN preserves their strong acidity, and leads to catalysts outcompeting by a factor 10 the KU supported on the most commonly used TiO2. KU on BN perform even better than adequately activated pure bulk KU crystals which were the most efficient catalysts to date thanks to their pseudo-liquid behavior. This effect is due to the ability of BN to stabilize still small enough KU crystallites. The dehydration of methanol to DME currently attracts much attention as the latter is indeed one of the most promising alternative fuels for the future. Indeed DME has a particularly low climate impact, being biodegradable, noncorrosive, and nontoxic and burning without emission of particulates or nitrous oxides.
Reprinted with permission from ACS Catalysis, 2017, 7, pp 4011–4017. DOI: 10.1021/acscatal.7b00808. Copyright (2017) American Chemical Society


Ronggang CAI has received the 2017 IMCN Best thesis Award on 24 May 2017.
His work was entitled "Nanoimprinted Ferroelectric Polymer Layesr for Organic Memory devices and Multiferroism".

This Prize, which is granted yearly by the IMCN Institute, rewards the most outstanding PhD work among those who graduated during the previous civil year (2016 in the present case).  A selection Committee chaired by Prof. Jacques DEVAUX and composed of one member per pole and the VPR noticed the high quantity and quality of research carried out by Ronggang, as well as his communication skills at various levels (conferences, publications, PhD defense).  This initiative aims at promoting excellence in scientific research within the Institute.


Dr Camila Fernandez has received the € 10,000 Umicore Materials Technology Award for her PhD work in the field of exploring dynamic catalytic processes for synthesizing ammonia on ruthenium-supported nanoparticles at low temperatures.
Dr Fernandez’s entry was one of 15 submitted from all over Europe. Camila Fernandez made her PhD studies under the supervision of Professors Eric Gaigneaux and Patricio Ruiz.

Multiferroic Nanopatterned Hybrid Material with Room-Temperature Magnetic Switching of the Electric Polarization
A multidisciplinary team from BSMA (groups of Alain Jonas, Bernard Nysten and Luc Piraux, with principal researchers Ronggang Cai and Vlad Antohe), in collaboration with Zhijun Hu from Soochow University (China) – a former post-doc from BSMA, fabricated a composite multiferroic layer wherein electrical information can be stored by a magnetic field. The layer offers new opportunities for data storage and remote actuation. Published in Advanced Materials

The thermodynamic scale of inorganic crystalline metastability
Geoffroy Hautier, in collaboration with colleagues from MIT, Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California Berkeley and University of California San Diego, have reported in Science Advances on a new thermodynamic understanding of metastability in materials (DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1600225 link to

Prix Metzner

Prof. Evelyne VAN RUYMBEKE obtained an Arthur B. Metzner Early Career Award.  A most important award in  the field of Rheology.


Professeur de Recherche Francqui

Jean-Christophe Charlier has obtained the Francqui Research Fellowship, which will allow him to concentrate fully on his research on properties of two-dimensional materials.

 Molecular Engineering of Trifunctional Supported Catalysts for the Aerobic Oxidation of Alcohols

IMCN researchers (Dr. Antony E. Fernandes, Prof. Olivier Riant and Prof. Alain M. Jonas), in collaboration with Prof. Klavs F. Jensen (MIT, Dept. of Chem. Eng., U.S.A.), have developed a general and simple strategy for the precision preparation of multifunctional supported catalysts, reported in Angewandte Chemie (DOI: 10.1002/anie.201603673).