Dr. Valentin Smeets has received the 2019 ISGS PhD Thesis Award on May 15, 2020 for his work entitled « New synthetic approaches to efficient Ti–SiO2 epoxidation catalysts ». This prize, granted by the International Sol-Gel Society (ISGS), awards the most outstanding PhD work among the sol-gel community. The international jury has emphasized the novelty and high quality of the research carried out on the development of new catalyst formulations via sol-gel chemistry, as well as its contribution to scientific knowledge in the field of sol-gel science.
During his PhD – carried out under the supervision of Profs. Damien Debecker and Eric Gaigneaux – Valentin Smeets has developed innovative sol-gel techniques (e.g. aerosol-assisted sol-gel, non-hydrolytic sol-gel, soft templating routes) for the preparation of efficient heterogeneous catalysts used in batch and continuous flow epoxidation. Importantly, he has discovered a new method to prepare hybrid multifunctional catalysts coupling an inorganic catalyst and an enzyme on a single solid. This breakthrough in the field of catalysis is also a milestone for future technological progress in the field of multifunctional hybrid materials, with numerous possible applications in the domain of nano(bio)technologies.