UCL Department of Chemical Engineering


2023 UCL CNIE/Anton Paar Surface and Pore Characterisation Workshop

2 May 2023

On 28 March 2023, a free one-day UCL CNIE/Anton Paar surface and pore characterization workshop was well-attended by over 45 participants from six different departments at UCL. 

Dr. Martin Thomas (lead scientist from Anton Paar USA)

Prof. Marc-Olivier Coppens opened the event by giving an overview of nature-inspired chemical engineering (NICE) techniques for designing nano-porous materials to promote sustainable development. 

Dr. Martin Thomas (lead scientist from Anton Paar USA) with 40 years of experience in materials characterization delivered a master course. He combined the theoretical talk with case studies covering a range of topics, including physisorption experiments and tips, surface area analysis and pore size analysis for micro-, meso-, and macro-pores, DFT vs BJH, gas sorption vs mercury intrusion techniques. 

The Q&A session was particularly popular and lasted for several hours, with many questions arising from real projects and analysis. Dr. Thomas had gone the extra mile to check the experimental data and provide useful suggestions and interpretations for researchers.

The 2023 UCL CNIE/Anton Paar Surface and Pore Characterization Workshop, organised by Dr Han Wu (UCL ChemEng) and Dr Nishil Malde (Anton Paar UK), was a great success, bringing together professionals from diverse backgrounds and provided valuable insights into the latest research and techniques in the field of surface and pore characterization.

Read our attendee comments:

Adriana Bernardes (PhD CNIE)

My PhD is about nature-inspired hydrodynamic techniques to enhance membrane separation performance. It was lovely to participate in the pore characterization workshop and learn more about how to use characterization techniques. Dr Thomas delivered a clear and remarkable presentation. The Q&A was also very useful to expose more detailed questions regarding different projects.

Dr Emanuele Magliocca (PDRA, EIL)

My research is focus on synthesis and characterisation of novel PGM-free catalysts for oxygen reduction reaction in fuel cell. I was impressed from the Q/A session, where we asked questions and doubts to an expert in the sector. We, also, had a chance to show our data directly from the lab, followed by Martin’s excellent tips and advices on our future experiments design.

Tongjun Luo (MSc, IMD)

Thank you very much for organizing such a workshop. The characterization of pores is a very important direction for our material testing. We usually do not have such detailed introduction to a specific measurement technology. A short theoretical introduction, rich knowledge and examples are of great benefit to us. I hope to participate more similar workshops.

Mohammed Babkoor (PhD, CNIE)

I really liked the workshop overall.  Gas adsorption is an indispensable part of heterogenous catalysis, my area of research. The knowledge shared by Dr. Martin will prove to be invaluable and highly relevant to my research as my Ph.D. progresses. The way he took us from the absolute basics of gas adsorption to some relatively advanced concepts made it easy to follow through different concepts and contents. I would love to see more of such workshop in other instruments.

Dr Shi Shi (Tech Officer, CEGE)

The workshop on Pore Characterisation is fantastic! As the mechanical performance of concrete is related to its microstructure, PSD plays a very important role in the hardened properties of concrete and MIP is the most used technique to characterise the concrete. Martin’s technique and tips about experiments are super useful.

I am also inspired by Marc-Olivier’s talk to better understand the pore structures of zeolites, as we work on the immobilisation of nuclear waste and zeolites are the crystalline phases which can immobilise the heavy metal ions, e.g. Cs+ in the cementitious matrix effectively.

Hercules Argyropoulos (PhD, BioChemEng)

Congratulation for that exceptional event! Dr. Thomas has very good knowledge transferability even for quite difficult concepts like gas porosimetry etc. It helps me to understand the existing porosity characterisation techniques and the limitations that have. The examples provided by Dr Thomas and Prof Coppens were particularly useful to understand the current technology for the porous materials characterisation. It would be quite useful for me to apply these techniques in polymeric filtration membrane materials characterisation.

Yue He (PhD, Earth Sciences)

I enjoyed the workshop very well. The method of characterising materials’ surface and the basic knowledge of pore characteristics were clearly explained. Dr. Thomas is very humorous and gave a very interesting presentation.

Dr Christos Vasilopanagos (PDRA, Chemistry)

Very informative intro by Prof. Coppens, set the basis for what was to follow brilliantly, in a concise and impactful way. I found the SSA-BET information was delivered beautifully including all appropriate details by Dr. Thomas. Clearly covered all topics from sample prep to interpreting isotherms, IUPAC classification (I used to struggle with that), differentiation between Langmuir and BET. Gave a nice overview of the theory of micro,meso,macro structures and mono-multilayer formation. Helped me understand finer details that could have helped me refine my publication, had I known earlier! Excellent on all fronts!

Hongzhen He (PhD, EIL)

As a PhD student specializing in the field of battery membranes, the determination of membrane porosity constitutes a crucial aspect of my research and plays a significant role in determining overall performance. This workshop has provided me with a novel perspective on the subject of pore measurement, and has consequently proven to be of great benefit to my ongoing research.