Chemical Engineering

Chemical Engineering of functional nanosystems: from molecules to products

Mission of the department of Chemical Engineering (ChemE)

Our Mission is to generate knowledge and educate people in the area of nano chemical engineering to improve the quality of life for a sustainable society, focusing on energy, water, health and environment.

Building upon its proven strength in Chemical Engineering, the Department develops the science and technology of functional nanostructured systems, from molecules up to the design of products and processes.

Scientific and technological breakthroughs are attained through international and multidisciplinary teamwork. Our inspiring and adventurous environment facilitates growth of our students and employees as responsible and innovative personalities.


  • Arjan Houtepen, Associate professor at the department of Chemical Engineering, has been elected to join “The Young Academy”. Called “De Jonge Akademie” in Dutch, this is a group of 50 young scientists associated with the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (KNAW).

    As stated on their website “The Young Academy is a dynamic and innovative group of top young scientists and scholars with outspoken views about science and scholarship and the related policy. The Young Academy organises inspiring activities for various target groups focusing on interdisciplinarity, science policy, and the interface between science and society.”
    Each year ten new members are elected. Arjan will join officially on June 8th and will serve the Young Academy for five years.
    For more info, see

    Dr. Rienk Eelkema has won a prestigious ERC Consolidator Grant. He will use this funding, which amounts to 2 million euros, to introduce communication in synthetic soft materials.
    One of the primary processes used by living cells to react to changes in their environment is called ‘signal transduction’. This process starts with a certain signal that triggers enzymatic activity within the cell, which in turn leads to a cascade of cellular responses. Signal transduction is the way in which cells ‘talk’ with one another and the starting point for many processes in the human body.
    From stupid to smart
    At the moment, synthetic materials lack even the most basic communicative function. They cannot respond to stimuli and signals the way cells do. Dr. Rienk Eelkema of the Department of Chemical Engineering aims to equip so-called ‘soft materials’, which can be anything from packaging material to adhesives, with signal transduction. In other words: he wants to make synthetic materials that can react to external signals with an autonomous, programmed response . The possible applications of smart soft materials are manifold. Imagine, for example, a packaging material that turns purple under a certain amount of pressure. Or tiny, drug-carrying compartments that only release their therapeutic contents when they get close to an infection or a tumour. 
    About the ERC Consolidator Grants
    ERC Consolidator Grants are designed to back up researchers who want to establish their research teams and continue developing a successful career in Europe. The scheme also strengthens independent and excellent new individual research teams that have been recently created.
  • TWO NATURE CHEMISTRY PAPERS BY OM-POSTDOC NICOLAS RENAUD On August 15, 2016 two new publications have appeared on the website of Nature Chemistry with major contributions from Nicolas Renaud, a postdoc in the group of Ferdinand Grozema in the section opto-electronic materials. The first paper, where Nico is the first author, reports on the results of a collaboration with researchers from Northwestern University (Mike Wasielewski and Fred Lewis) on charge transfer in DNA. Over the last decades this has been a subject of considerable controversy. It was now shown in a combined theoretical/experimental study that the rate of charge transfer can be up to two orders of magnitude higher than previously observed by exploiting a new transport mechanism coined deep hole transport. This opens the way to new applications in which the unique self-assembling properties of DNA can be used in single molecule electronics. The second paper is a collaboration with the group of Herre van der Zant from the Kavli Institite of Quantum Nanoscience on single molecule conductance measurements. In these experiments it was possible to measure conduction between two pi-stacked molecules between two electrodes. Interesting, the conductance properties are strongly modified if the stacked molecules are manipulated mechanically by moving the electrodes. Using computational techniques the observed effects are traced back to so-called quantum interference effects that only occur on a molecular scale. These effects are very difficult to observe experimentally and the statistical analysis of the conductance measurements was a major hurdle in the interpretation of the data. Nico has played a major role in the data analysis and in the quantum chemical calculations and is the last author on this paper.

    Mechanically Controlled Quantum Interference in Individual π-stacked Dimers
    R. Frisenda, V. Jansen, F.C. Grozema, H.S.J. van der Zant and N. Renaud, Nature Chem., doi:10.1038/nchem.2588
    Deep-Hole Tunneling Leads to Ultrafast Charge Transfer in DNA Hairpins
    Nicolas Renaud, Michelle A. Harris, Arunoday P. N. Singh, Yuri A. Berlin, Mark A. Ratner, Michael R. Wasielewski, Frederick D. Lewis, and Ferdinand C. Grozema, Nature Chem., doi:10.1038/nchem.2590
  • VIDI Grant for Wilson Smith

    The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has awarded Vidi grants worth EUR 800,000 to ten researchers at TU Delft. Vidi grants are given to experienced researchers qualified to PhD level who are already some years into their research career. A Vidi grant enables them to spend five years conducting research and developing their own innovative line of research.

    Low-cost materials for clean energy Wilson Smith (Chemical Engineering)
    Storing solar energy could help resolve global energy and environmental problems. This research aims to identify low-cost materials for converting sunlight and water into hydrogen (and oxygen), a clean fuel for the future.

  • FOM/f and Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship for Dr. Silke Diedenhofen

    Dr. Silke Diedenhofen was granted with the FOM/f and Marie Sklodowska-Curie fellowships to pursue the project “Dynamics of Charge Carriers and Excitons in Phosphorene”.  She accepted the FOM/f fellowship that allows her to work as a postdoc in the Optoelectronic Materials Group under supervision of Prof. Laurens Siebbeles.
    Phosphorene consists of a monolayer or a few layers of black phosphorous and has properties that depend on the number of layers and are significantly different from bulk. This is similar to the difference between graphene and carbon. It is a very promising semiconductor because of its direct electronic band gap that can be tuned with the number of layers. Furthermore, its high charge carrier mobilities render it an interesting material for electronic applications. However, before phosphorene can be treated as a viable alternative to existing technologies, a lot of its fundamental properties remain to be understood.
  • Ruud van Ommen appointed as Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Professor
    Delft University of Technology has appointed Ruud van Ommen as Antoni van Leeuwenhoek professor. These chairs are early promotions of young, outstanding scientists to the position of professor, enabling them to develop their scientific careers to the fullest extent at our university.

     Ruud van Ommen (42) received his MSc. in Chemical Engineering in 1996 and his PhD 2001, both at Delft University of Technology. He has been working as a faculty member at the Chemical Engineering Department (Faculty of Applied Sciences) since then, with stints at Chalmers University (Sweden) and the University of Colorado at Boulder (USA). His research interests are solids processing, reactor engineering, and scaling-up nanotechnology. Dr. van Ommen currently focuses on bringing manufacturing of advanced materials for energy and health applications from lab to industrial scale. He co-founded the fast-growing spin-off company Delft IMP (2014), and co-organized several national and international conferences in his field. He has co-authored over 100 publications in peer reviewed journals, several book chapters and patents. He has been the recipient of prestigious personal grants, such as ERC Starting (2011) and ERC Proof of Concept (2012&2015) grants. In addition to all this, he teaches in the curricula of Sustainable Energy Technology and Chemical Engineering, where the students value him as a dedicated and able teacher. 
  • ERC Consolidator Grant for Louis de Smet

    Louis de Smet has been awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant of nearly 2 million euro for his project ‘Electro-motion for the sustainable recovery of high-value nutrients from waste water.’
    The E-motion programme is set to research ultrathin polymer coatings for the recovery of specific nutrients from waste water via electro-driven separation processes. The focus is on phosphate, which is of special interest as all life forms need phosphorus and its resources are limited. The increased understanding of ion transport and ionic interactions in membrane media offer also applications in the areas of batteries, fuel cells and solar fuel devices.
    A first example from his group on such thin films show an increased affinity for mono-phosphate ions. The study will be published in the early February issue of Soft Matter (doi). This work has been performed in collaboration with Wetsus, European Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Water Technology and the University of Groningen. E-motion now allows Louis and his group to extend and deepen this research.
  • Louis de Smet awarded with the Young Scientist Award at GAMS 2015
     Louis recently presented the Soft Matter work at the Global Advanced Materials & Surfaces (GAMS) Forum 2015 in Dubai, UAE.His lecture on 'Functionalized Polyelectrolytes as Versatile Building Blocks' was awarded with the Young Scientist Award

    More info:
  • ERC starting grant for Houtepen
    Arjan Houtepen received an ERC starting grant from the European Union. He will receive 1.5 million euros for a new five year research programme.

    Arjan Houtepen is assistant professor at ChemE. His grant will be used to research electronic doping of porous semiconductor materials, specifically films made of colloidal quantum dots. Doping means intentionally introducing impurities into a material to change its properties, in this case the electron concentration. These porous semiconductors are very promising  for the development of efficient and cheap LEDs, lasers and photovoltaic cells.To achieve this, researchers need to be able to precisely dope these materials and that is not yet possible. Arjan Houtepen will use this grant to develop a completely new way to achieve this.
    ERC Starting Grants aim to support up-and-coming research leaders who are about to establish a proper research team and to start conducting independent research in Europe. The scheme targets promising researchers who have the proven potential of becoming independent research leaders. It will support the creation of excellent new research teams.
  • Paper publised in Science
    The work of Wouter Hendriksen, Job Boekhoven, Ger Koper, Rienk Eelkema and Jan van Esch was published in Science. The paper explores the potential of active materials fueled by chemical reactions, leading to programmable material properties with a lifetime and synthetic supramolecular polymers with microtubule like behavior. The movie (via gives a short overview of the main achievements, and the paper can be found here.
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