Scientist secures place in Periodic Table of Younger Chemists

Date: 30 October 2018

Introduction: Sammy Verbruggen (UAntwerp) awarded a place in select group of promising young chemists.

Titanium – that’s what Antwerp researcher Sammy Verbruggen can call himself from now. The bio-engineer has been selected by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) for inclusion in their alternative periodic table with 118 young scientists set to shape the future of chemistry.

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry is one of the world's leading bodies in the chemical sector. As part of the celebrations for its one hundredth anniversary, the organisation is compiling an alternative periodic table (also known as Mendeleev's table). Next year, 2019[LP-UA1] , has also been nominated the International Year of the Periodic Table. For each element in the table, the IUPAC is looking for a promising scientist who will help determine the chemistry of the future.

The table is being filled in one element at a time and almost half of the chemical elements now bear the name of a promising researcher. One Belgian scientist is currently among the lucky ones: Sammy Verbruggen, bio-engineer at the University of Antwerp, gets atomic number 22, the spot reserved for titanium. 

New technology

Verbruggen is delighted with the recognition. “I have been researching the possible applications of titanium oxides in converting sunlight into chemical energy for nearly 10 years. It’s a great honour to be identified with an element that has played such an important role in my career.”

The Antwerp scientist attracted the attention of the international media in 2017 when he came up with a technology that can purify air and generate energy simultaneously. Verbruggen: “On the one hand, air is purified, while on the other hand hydrogen gas is produced from some of the degradation products. This hydrogen gas can be stored and used as fuel later on, for example in the hydrogen buses that are already being used by the Flemish transport company De Lijn.”

Sammy Verbruggen works in the Sustainable Energy, Air and Water Technology research group at the University of Antwerp. The group’s focus lies on researching plasmonic photocatalysis and plasma catalysis.