Materials Research Laboratory

About the laboratory

Materials Research Laboratory is located at the University Center in Ajdovščina. A dynamic team of domestic and foreign researchers under the leadership of professor Matjaž Valant, has accomplished significant scientific successes and is regularly publishing in renowned scientific journals. As such it is contributing towards affirming the position of the University of Nova Gorica on international level. Our highly esteemed research work enables us to work with the most important academic and industrial laboratories all over the world.

Basic research

Main research topics of the laboratory are from fields of electronic and environmental materials.

Topological insulators

Topological insulators (TI) are special kind of materials that behave as insulators in its interior and have conductive surface because of present topological conductive states. Interaction between topological insulators and metals is yet unexplored. In our laboratory we study crystallographic and functional properties of the interface between TI and metals.

Computational solid-state chemistry

Simulations based on density functional theory (DFT) have become an extremely successful tool for describing the ground state properties of a wide range of bulk and more complex form of matter such as nanostructures and interfaces and also for calculation of activation energies of chemical reactions. For simulations of optical properties we use the most advanced and accurate approaches based on combination of GW method and Beth-Salpeter equation. With methods mentioned above we solve problems like defects on atomic scale in amorphous silicon and oxidation of metal surfaces.

Photocatalysts for water splitting

Water molecules can be split using photo-electrochemical cells with photoactive catalysts. Within our research we develop new materials, study structural, electronic and photocatalytic properties of catalysts and observe the influence of morphology, composition and particle size on photocatalytic activity.

Topologically designed magnesium alloys for biomedical applications

The main objective of this project is to develop high performance magnesium (Mg) alloys readily adoptable in biomedicine as well as in lightweight mobility sectors. Mg is selected because of exceptional yet unexploited potential for various applications due to unique combination of properties including high strength to density ratio, excellent environmental sustainability, and superb biocompatibility. The alloys are to consist from abundant affordable components readily available from within the EU, which should facilitate the improvement of security, sustainability and socioeconomic prosperity of people in Slovenia, Europe and beyond.

Polysilanes and polycarboslilanes

Polysilanes are polymers, which skeleton is build of silicon atoms bearing organic groups. With the thermal treatment polysilanes are converted to polycarbosilanes, polymers with the skeleton consisting both silicon and carbon atoms. Further thermal treating at higher temperatures gives silicon carbide. Polysilanes are in our laboratory synthesised with the electrochemical reduction of chlorosilanes. This gives much more controlled conditions and safer polymerization than a widely used reduction with liquid sodium. In order to use polysilanes as precursors for polycarbosilanes and silicon carbide ceramics on nano scale, we study the size of macromolecules and their state in the solution (agglomeration/de-agglomeration), the effect of electrochemical conditions on the size and the structure of macromolecules, the thermal conversion and properties of obtained polycarbosilanes.

Biogenic production of hydrogen

Objective of the projects are development of new green technologies for metallization of polymeric surfaces and for remediation of metal polluted wastewaters by reductive potential of algae.
Metallization by algae does not require expensive industrial facilities, which are adapted to conventional vacuum loading. Additionally it completely removes the use of toxic and aggressive chemicals that have a big influence on the environment. Another advantage is that for metallization there is no need for high temperatures as is for vacuum loading since the processes are carried out at room temperature. Because of this also the use of energy is reduced.
Systems with hydrogen producing algae will be used for research of biological remediation of waters polluted with metal ions. Obtained knowledge will contribute to better understanding and more efficient removal and recycling of metal ions from wastewaters.

Project is co-financed by Republic of Slovenia and European Union (European Regional Development Fund).

Head of the laboratory
Prof. Matjaž Valant, PhD

Saša Badalič
University of Nova Gorica
Materials research laboratory
Vipavska 11c
SI-5270 Ajdovščina
T: +386 5 3653 521
F: +386 5 3653 527