Mirjam de Graaf

PhD candidate
Utrecht University

About myself

I was born and raised in The Hague, where I lived very close to the beach. I received my BSc and MSc degree in Chemical Engineering at Delft University of Technology. Towards the end of 2020, I started my PhD as an ARC CBBC member at the hub in Utrecht University.

You can wake me up in the middle of the night for some milk chocolate or a nice plate of sushi (but not to eat at the same time, please). In my free time I try to keep active by going running. I am also improving my sewing skills and I enjoy playing board games and video games with my friends.

At the moment I work on…

… developing novel conversion pathways and related catalytic materials for the removal of various harmful and/or odorous indoor air pollutants. We will develop photocatalytically active materials that can degrade these harmful substances, which may be present in building walls and furniture for example. I am focusing on metal-oxide functionalized zeolite thin films as photocatalysts. The most promising catalyst materials will be incorporated in paint/coating systems, creating a functionalized paint/coating which will be tested for its air purification activity. Advanced analytical methods in specially designed testing units for coating evaluation will be developed to detect various relevant target molecules at concentrations down to the ppb level. In addition, we will focus on the activation of the catalyst materials by modern indoor lighting. I am doing this project under supervision of Dr. Eline Hutter (UU) and Prof. Bert Weckhuysen (UU) and I will be in close collaboration with Dr. Jitte Flapper (AkzoNobel). In addition, I will collaborate with with Prof. Guido Mul (UTwente) and fellow PhD candidate Nathalia Tavares Costa (UTwente), who will focus on the same topic but use different materials.

As a researcher I am passionate about…

… collaboration and communication! Collaboration between scientists not only makes for cool results and great progress – it is also just very fun to do, and I think we can learn a great deal from each other. Communication goes hand in hand with collaboration. I think that as researchers, we should make sure that we are able to communicate our research clearly – both to our fellow researchers, but also to people who are not experts in the field and even to your own family for example. This will make for a better understanding of the research all around. On a more scientific note, I have always been fascinated about the wondrous world of tiny things, so working on nanomaterials is a great fit for me!

Within ARC CBBC, I wish to accomplish…

… creating a material that can be applied in real life to clean indoor environments with the aid of many great collaborations. I hope to create a better understanding of what components are necessary to develop a material to do so, and what specific properties are important. In addition, of course I would also like to see this material actually incorporated in a paint or coating, so that we can buy air-cleaning furniture in the near future, and live in a more healthy indoor environment!