EMPA Materials Sciences and Technology, Hydrogen & Energy (EMPA)

Principal investigator: 
Andreas Züttel


The main activities of the group are synthesis and properties of metal hydrides, the synthesis of carbon nanostructures and the electrochemical investigation of hydrogen sorption as well as double layer capacities. We have worked for several years on the development and electrochemical investigation of AB5- and AB2-type alloys [93]. This work was followed by a study of the hydrogen sorption kinetics of metal hydride electrodes [94] and an investigation of the properties of nanostructured metals (Pd-clusters)[95]. We have synthesized light weight hydrides based on magnesium and transition elements [96], and we have applied various methods to catalyse the absorption and desorption of hydrogen from these materials. Chemical vapour deposition (CVD) and fluidized bed synthesis of single- and oriented multiwall carbon nanotubes [97] was developed and the hydrogen sorption characteristics of carbon nanostructures in the gas phase as well as in the electrolyte have been investigated [98]. Current activities are the investigation of the structure [99], hydrogen desorption and reversibility of complex hydrides [100], and the synthesis of supported nanostructures for electrochemical double layer capacitors.

Facilities and infrastructure

The condensed matter physics group holds significant expertise in and/or has infrastructure for the preparation of metal (alloys and intermetallic compounds) hydrides, gas (hydrogen, deuterium, helium and nitrogen) sorption, the determination of the thermodynamics of hydrogen sorption (kinetics and equilibrium), structural characterisation by X-ray synchrotron and in-situ neutron diffraction, and surface characterisation by means of X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy.

Training and tutoring capacity

A. Züttel has extensive experience with supervising and tutoring Master and Ph.D. students, and teaches several courses at the MSc/PhD level that will be useful for the exchange students (Thermodynamics, Hydrogen in and on solids, Energy conversion and storage). Züttel also teaches "Hydrogen as an energy carrier" at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam.
experience with international collaboration

The group has collaborations with several Dutch, German, English and Japanese groups and has participated as a partner in projects of the 4th, 5th and 6th European framework program. There is an ongoing collaboration with the LEI group which has already led to a publication [68].

Key publications

  • L. Schlapbach and A. Züttel, Hydrogen-storage materials for mobile applications, Nature 414, pp. 353-358, 2001.
  • A. Züttel, Materials for Hydrogen Storage, Materials Today, pp. 24-33,(2003).
  • S. Orimo, Y. Nakamori; A. Züttel, Material properties of MBH4 (M = Li, Na, and K), Materials Science & Engineering B 108 (2004), pp. 51-53.


93. A. Züttel, P. Fischer, F. Fauth, A. Otto, and V. Güther, J. Alloys and Compd. 333, 90 (2002).
94. A. Züttel, D. Chartouni, C. Nützenadel, L. Schlapbach, V. Güther, A. Otto, M. Bärtsch, and R. Kötz, Mater.Sci.Forum 315-317, 84 (1999).
95. A. Züttel, C. Nützenadel, G. Schmid, C. Emmenegger, P. Sudan, and L. Schlapbach, Appl.Surf.Sci. 162-163, 571 (2000).
96. S. Orimo, K. Ikeda, H. Fujii, S. Saruki, T. Fukunaga, A. Züttel, and L. Schlapbach, Acta Mater. 46, 4519 (1998).
97. P. Mauron, C. Emmenegger, P. Sudan, P. Wenger, S. Rentsch, and A. Züttel, Diamond and Related Materials 12, 780 (2003).
98. A. Züttel, P. Sudan, P. Mauron, T. Kiyobaiashi, C. Emmenegger, and L. Schlapbach, Int. J. Hydrogen Energy 27, 203 (2002).
99. P. Fischer and A. Züttel, Mater. Sci. Forum 443-445, 287 (2004).
100. A. Züttel, S. Rentsch, P. Fischer, P. Wenger, P. Sudan, P. Mauron, and C. Emmenegger, J. Alloys and Compd. 356, 515 (2003).