Illustration of the research statement, synthesis, reaction kinetics and operando spectroscopy with additional pictures and arrows

© AG Föttinger

Research Interests

The main research interest of our group is to obtain a fundamental understanding of catalysts and catalytic reactions. By combining operando spectroscopic characterization of catalysts with reaction kinetics analysis, we aim at establishing structure-performance relations and identifying reaction mechanisms. Understanding the elementary reaction steps at the catalyst surface and identification of the involved intermediates and surface sites is crucial for a rational design and improvement of catalytic materials. Materials of interest include high surface area metal oxides (e.g. ZrO2, CeO2, ZnO, Ga2O3, Al2O3, Co3O4, zeolites, ferrites), sulfides (MoS2) and oxide supported (bi)metallic nanoparticles (e.g. Pd, Au, Ni, Cu, Ag, Pt).

We utilize a range of different state of the art techniques, most of  them applied in situ/operando. A main focus is the application of vibrational spectroscopy during reactions both at the solid/gas and solid/liquid interface, including mechanistic studies, isotope labeling and modulation excitation experiments. We complement these studies by examining structure (XRD, EXAFS), electronic properties (XPS, XANES) and available surface sites (FTIR of probe molecules, temperature-programmed methods, chemisorption). NAP-XPS and XAS are carried out within measurements stays at synchrotrons. Several reactor setups are available for performing catalytic tests equipped with GC and MS detection of products.

Our major topics of interest are centered around catalysis for energy and environment with a focus on H2 chemical storage and purification for fuel cell applications, CO2 utilization for production of alcohols, and catalytic conversion of bio-based alcohols, such as bioethanol and glycerol.

Our current research projects involve fundamental research as well as applied research:

  • Catalytic CO2 hydrogenation to methanol and higher alcohols (sulfides as sulfur-tolerant catalysts, mixed oxides, alternative synthesis routes)
    See also DK CO2Refinery
  • Surface chemistry, structure, and reactivity of multi-component spinel nanoparticles
    See also SFB Taco
  • Polyol hydrogenation over bifunctional catalysts to chemicals and fuel components
  • Bimetallic Au-based catalysts for selective alcohol oxidation
  • Additive manufacturing of materials with tunable shape and porosity for catalysis applications
  • H2 chemical storage: methanol synthesis and steam reforming over Pd-Zn and Pd-Ga intermetallic compounds
  • H2 purification: water gas shift, preferential CO oxidation

Interested in our work? Join us!

We have always opportunities for Master and Bachelor theses. Please contact me directly:

Group Members

Eva Szoldatits

MSc. Gustavo Alves

DI Michael Pittenauer 

MSc. Francesco Valentini

DI Markus Latschka

DI Gernot Pacholik

MSc. Alberto Tampieri

Former members of the group

Mirjam Radeljic

DI Melanie Riess

Dr. Andreas Nagl

Dr. Klaus Dobrezberger

Dr. Nevzat Yigit

Dr. Astrid Wolfbeisser

Dr. Liliana Lukashuk

DI Elisabeth Kolar

DI Roman Tiefenthaller

DI Matthäus Rothensteiner

Dr. Noelia Barrabes

Dr. Andreas Haghofer

Dr. Katrin Zorn

DI Waltraud Emhofer

Prof. Hannelore Vinek

Collaboration partners


Prof. Günther Rupprechter (TU Wien)

Prof. Christoph Rameshan (TU Wien)

Prof. Thomas Konegger (TU Wien)

Prof. Franz Winter (TU Wien)

CO2Refinery Team

TACO team, especially Prof. Ellen Backus (University Vienna), Prof. Gareth Parkinson (TU Wien)

Dr. Paul schöffl (OMV)

Prof. Thomas Wallek (TU Graz)

Prof. Bernhard Klötzer, Dr. Simon Penner (University Innsbruck)

Prof. Andreas Limbeck (TU Wien)

Dr. Martin Schwentenwein (Lithoz)


Prof. Jeroen A. van Bokhoven, Dr. Mark Newton ETH Zurich and Paul-Scherrer-Institute, Switzerland

Prof. Robert Schlögl, Dr. Axel Knop-Gericke, Dr. Detre Teschner, Fritz-Haber-Institute, Berlin, Germany

Prof. Jatuporn Wittayakun, Suranaree University of Technology, Thailand

Prof. Mark Saeys, Ghent University, Belgium

Prof. Francesc Medina, Universidad de Tarragona, Spain

Prof. Sirinuch Loiha, Khon Kaen University, Thailand

Dr. David Kubicka, University of Chemistry and Technology Prague, Czech Republic

Group Photograph of Karin Föttinger and her team outside in front of greenery

© AG Föttinger

Group photograph of Karin Föttinger's team outside sitting around a table

© AG Föttinger

Group Photo of Karin Föttinger sitting on a bench and her team standing next to her

© AG Föttinger

Selected Publications

1. G. Pacholik, L. Enzlberger, A. Benzer, R. Rameshan, M. Latschka, C. Rameshan, K. Föttinger*: In situ XPS studies of MoS2-based CO2 hydrogenation catalysts, Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, 54 (2021), 324002.

2. L. Lukashuk, N. Yigit, R. Rameshan, E. Kolar, D. Teschner, M. Hävecker, A. Knop-Gericke, R. Schlögl, K. Föttinger*, G. Rupprechter*: Operando insights into CO oxidation on cobalt oxide catalysts by NAP-XPS, FTIR and XRD; ACS Catalysis, 8 (2018), 8630.

3. A. Wolfbeisser, B. Klötzer, L. Mayr, R. Rameshan, D. Zemlyanov, J. Bernardi, K. Föttinger*, G. Rupprechter: Surface modification processes during methane decomposition on Cu-promoted Ni-ZrO2 catalysts, Catalysis Science & Technology, 5 (2015) 967.

4. K. Föttinger, G. Rupprechter*: In situ spectroscopy of complex surface reactions on supported Pd-Zn, Pd-Ga and Pd(Pt)-Cu nanoparticles, Accounts of Chemical Research, 47 (2014) 3071.

5. K. Föttinger*, J.A. van Bokhoven, M. Nachtegaal, G. Rupprechter: Dynamic Structure of a Working Methanol Steam Reforming Catalyst: In Situ Quick-EXAFS on Pd/ZnO Nanoparticles, Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, 2 (2011), 428.

6. A. Haghofer, D. Ferri, K. Föttinger*, G. Rupprechter: " Who Is Doing the Job? Unraveling the Role of Ga2 O3 in Methanol Steam Reforming on Pd2Ga/Ga2O3 "; ACS Catalysis, 2 (2012), 2305.


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