Sara Bals


Research Group


Personal Data & Academic Degrees

  • Place & date of birth: Antwerp (Belgium) August 25, 1977
  • Master Sc.Phys: University of Antwerp, 1999
  • Ph.D. Physics: "Optimisation of superconducting thin films and tapes by transmission electron microscopy ", University of Antwerp, 2003

Scientific & Academic Career

  • 2018-now: Full Professor, Department of Physics, University of Antwerp, Belgium
  • 2014-now: Professor, Department of Physics, University of Antwerp, Belgium
  • 2012-2014: Associate Professor, Department of Physics, University of Antwerp, Belgium
  • 2007-2012: Assistant Professor, Department of Physics, University of Antwerp, Belgium
  • 2004-2007: FWO Postdoc at EMAT, University of Antwerp, Belgium
  • 2003-2004: Postdoc at NCEM (National Center for Electron Microscopy) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, USA
  • 1999-2003: Ph.D. Researcher at the University of Antwerp

Main Topics of Interest

  • Atomic resolution electron tomography
  • Quantitative electron tomography
  • Study of nanoparticles and ultra small clusters using aberration corrected (S)TEM
  • Exit wave reconstruction
  • Interfaces between soft and hard matter

Scientific Activities

  • Over 270 publications in international journals with referee system
  • Invited speaker at several international conferences and institutions
  • Co-author of a book chapter on Electron Tomography ( "Handbook of Nanoscopy" Wiley-VCH, ed. G. Van Tendeloo, D. Van Dyck, S. Pennycook in press )
  • Over 5000 citations, h-index of 39
  • Promotor of many European and National projects
  • Principal investigator of ERC Starting Grant "Colour Atoms"

Key Publications


Tunable porous nanoallotropes prepared by post-assembly etching of binary nanoparticle superlattices
Udayabhaskararao T., Altantzis T., Houben L., Coronado-Puchau M., Langer J., Popovitz-Biro R., Liz-Marzán L. M., Vuković L., Král P., Bals S., Klajn R.
Science, 358, 6362, 514–518 (2017)


Composite Supraparticles with Tunable Light Emission
Montanarella F., Altantzis T., Zanaga D., Rabouw F.T., Bals S., Baesjou P., Vanmaekelbergh D., Van Blaaderen A.
ACS Nano, 11, 9, 9136-9142 (2017)


Shape control in ZIF-8 nanocrystals and metal nanoparticles@ZIF-8 heterostructures
Zheng G., Chen Z., Sentosun K., Pérez-Juste I., Bals S., Liz-Marzán L.M., Pastoriza-Santos I., Pérez-Juste J., Hong M.
Nanoscale, 9, 43, 16645-16651 (2017)


Nanorattles with tailored electric field enhancement
Schnepf M.J., Mayer M., Kuttner C., Tebbe M., Wolf D., Dulle M., Altantzis T., Formanek P., Förster S., Bals S., König T.A.F., Fery A.
Nanoscale, 9, 27, 9376-9385 (2017)


High-Yield Seeded Growth of Monodisperse Pentatwinned Gold Nanoparticles through Thermally Induced Seed Twinning
Sánchez-Iglesias A., Winckelmans N., Altantzis T., Bals S., Grzelczak M., Liz-Marzán L.M.
JACS, 139, 1, 107-110 (2017)


Atomic Structure of Wurtzite CdSe (Core)/CdS (Giant Shell) Nanobullets Related to Epitaxy and Growth
Bladt E., van Dijk-Moes R.J.A., Peters J., Montanarella F., de Mello Donega C., Vanmaekelbergh D., Bals S.
JACS, 138, 43, 14288-14293 (2016)


Quantitative 3D analysis of huge nanoparticle assemblies
Zanaga D., Bleichrodt F., Altantzis T., Winckelmans N., Palenstijn W.J., Sijbers J., de Nijs B., van Huis M.A., Sanchez-Iglesias A., Liz-Marzan L.M., van Blaaderen A., Joost Batenburg K., Bals S., Van Tendeloo G.
Nanoscale, 8, 1, 292-299 (2016)


Supracrystalline Colloidal Eggs: Epitaxial Growth and Freestanding Three-Dimensional Supracrystals in Nanoscaled Colloidosomes
Yang Z., Altantzis T., Zanaga D., Bals S., Van Tendeloo G., Pileni M.-P.
JACS, 138, 10, 3493-3500 (2016)


Templated Growth of Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering-Active Branched Gold Nanoparticles within Radial Mesoporous Silica Shells
Marta N. Sanz-Ortiz, Kadir Sentosun, Sara Bals, Luis M. Liz-Marzán
ACS Nano, DOI:  10.1021/acsnano.5b04744


Measuring Lattice Strain in Three Dimensions through Electron Microscopy
Bart Goris, Jan De Beenhouwer, Annick De Backer, Daniele Zanaga, K. Joost Batenburg, Ana Sánchez-Iglesias, Luis M. Liz-Marán, Sandra Van Aert, Sara Bals, Jan Sijbers, and Gustaaf Van Tendeloo
Nano Lett., 2015, 15 (10), pp 6996–7001


Chabazite: a stable cation-exchanger in hyper alkaline concrete pore water
Van Tendeloo, L., Wangermez, W., Kurttepeli, M., de Blochouse, B., Bals, S., Van Tendeloo, G., Martens, J. A., Maes, A., Kirschhock, C. E. A., & Breynaert, E.
Environmental Science & Technology, 49, 4, 2358–2365 (2015)


Conformal and Atomic Characterization of Ultrathin CdSe Platelets with a Helical Shape
E.M. Hutter, E. Bladt, B. Goris, F. Pietra, J.C. van der Bok, M.P. Boneschanscher, C. de Mello Donegá, S. Bals, D. Vanmaekelbergh
Nanoletters 2014, 14 (11), pp 6257–6262


Synthesis of a 3D network of Pt nanowires by atomic layer deposition on carbonaceous template
Deng, S., Kurttepeli, M., Deheryan, S., Cott, D. J., Vereecken, P. M., Martens, J. A., Bals, S., van Tendeloo, G., Detavernier, C.
Nanoscale, 6, 12, 6939–6944 (2014)


Co–Fe Nanodumbbells: Synthesis, Structure, and Magnetic Properties
Liakakos, N., Gatel, C., Blon, T., Altantzis, T., Lentijo-Mozo, S., Garcia-Marcelot, C., Lacroix, L.-M., Respaud, M., Bals, S., Van Tendeloo, G. & Soulantica, K.
Nano Letters, 14, 5, 2747–2754 (2014)


Long-range orientation and atomic attachment of nanocrystals in 2D honeycomb superlattices
Boneschanscher, M. P., Evers, W. H., Geuchies, J. J., Altantzis, T., Goris, B., Rabouw, F. T., van Rossum, S. A. P. , van der Zant, H. S. J. , Siebbeles, L. D. A. , Van Tendeloo, G. , Swart, I. , Hilhorst, J., Petukhov, A. V. , Bals, S. , & Vanmaekelbergh, D.
Science, 344, 6190, 1377–1380 (2014)


Au@Ag nanoparticles: halides stabilize {100} facets
Gómez-Graña, S., Goris, B., Altantzis, T., Fernández-López, C., Carbó-Argibay, E., Guerrero-Martínez, A., Almora-Barrios, N., López, N., Pastoriza-Santos, I., Pérez-Juste, J., Bals, S., Van Tendeloo, G., & Liz-Marzán, L.M.
The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, 4, 2209–2216 (2013)


This movie shows a 3D visualisation of the reconstructed atomic lattice in a Au nanorod. This type of reconstructions is obtained using a compressive sensing based reconstruction technique and displays the exact surface facets that are present in such nanorods
Atomic-scale determination of surface facets in gold nanorods
Goris, B., Bals, S., Van den Broek, W., Carbó-Argibay, E., Gómez-Graña, S., Liz-Marzán, L.M., & Van Tendeloo, G.
Nature Materials, 11, 930–935 (2012)


Three-dimensional electron tomography reconstruction of self-assembly of a cluster of Au nanodumbbells encapsulated in polymeric micelles. The length of AuNDs is about 65 nm.
Steric Hindrance induces crosslike self-assembly of gold nanodumbbells
Grzelczak, M., Sánchez-Iglesias, A., Heidari Mezerji, H., Bals, S., Pérez-Juste, J., & Liz-Marzán, L.M.
Nano Letters, 12, 4380–4384 (2012)


Three-Dimensional Atomic Imaging of Colloidal Core–Shell Nanocrystals
S. Bals, M. Casavola, M. van Huis, S. Van Aert, J. Batenburg, G. Van Tendeloo, D. Vanmaekelbergh 
Nano Letters 11 (2011) 3420


Prof. Dr. Sara Bals Campus Groenenborger
Groenenborgerlaan 171
2020 Antwerpen
Tel. +32 3 265 32 84
Fax +32 3 265 33 18