Dr. Matthias May

Update: I have moved to Ulm University, starting an Emmy Noether group there.

I am currently a scientist at the Instiute for Solar Fuels, Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin. My research interests lie mainly in the field of Solid State Physics with a focus on solid-liquid interfaces for photoelectrochemical energy conversion. To study fundamental aspects, but also application cases, I use experimental electron- and photon-based surface science tools as well as modelling by means of density functional theory.

With insights from surface science-based water adorption studies [1,2], I could develop a strategy [3] for the photoelectrochemical surface functionalisation of a tandem absorber establishing new solar-to-hydrogen efficiency benchmarks for direct (i.e. immersed, reactive = light-absorbing surface) solar water splitting, currently of 19% [4].

To gain a more fundamental insight into mechanisms and resulting surface electronic structure of the systems exposed to water, I started using density functional theory followed by theoretical spectroscopy to unravel experimental signatures of GaP(100) exposed to water [5].

As negative CO2 emission approaches currently appear unavoidable for limiting global warming to below 2.0 or 1.5°C, I am also exploring the contributions that photoelectrochemistry could make, consuming less land and water than other options [6].

  1. May et al., New Journal of Physics 15 (2013). DOI:10.1088/1367-2630/15/10/103003.
  2. May et al., Journal of Physical Chemistry C 118 (2014). DOI:10.1021/jp502955m.
  3. May et al., Nature Communications 6 (2015). DOI:10.1038/ncomms9286.
  4. Cheng et al., ACS Energy Letters 3 (2018). DOI:10.1021/acsenergylett.8b00920.
  5. May and Sprik, New Journal of Physics 20 (2018). DOI:10.1088/1367-2630/aaaf38.
  6. May and Rehfeld, Earth System Dynamics 10 (2019). DOI:10.5194/esd-10-1-2019.