HZB researcher follows the call to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem
Ronen Gottesman has been a scientist at the HZB Institute for Solar Fuels for the past five years, establishing the pulsed laser deposition team and developing novel complex metal-oxide semiconducting lightabsorbers for photoelectrochemical water splitting to produce "green" hydrogen. Now he is following a call to the Institute of Chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel (HUJI), where he will lead his own research group.
During his doctorate at Bar Ilan University in Tel Aviv, Ronen Gottesman worked on perovskite-based solar cells after an internship in South-Korea at the lab of Prof. Nam-Gyu Park (one of the co-inventors of perovskite solar cells). Therefore, he was one of the first students in Israel to work on these fantastic semiconductor materials. He remained faithful to the topic of solar energy conversion in the broadest sense when he joined the HZB Institute for Solar Fuels as a materials scientist in 2017. Here, the focus is to develop new materials and devices for producing chemical fuels from cheap and abundant resources, such as water and CO2, using sunlight.
At first, Gottesman recalls that he had to overcome a particular scientific-language barrier when switching from the field of photovoltaics to photoelectrochemistry, as some technical terms are somewhat different in their meaning. In his five years at HZB, he has built up a kind of witches' kitchen for photoelectrodes using the pulsed laser deposition system. He refers to it as combinatorial synthesis that allows to systematically synthesize various compositions of transition-metal oxides to identify the mixture with the best properties.
Throughout his work at HZB, the head of the Institute for Solar Fuels, Roel van de Krol, has mentored Gottesman and encouraged his approach to change the perspective when needed; From a focus on details to the bird's eye view. Both perspectives are essential: meaningful scientific achievements cannot be made without focusing on intricate details, and strategic decisions are difficult to take without seeing the big picture.
With his appointment at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Ronen Gottesman has achieved an important career goal: a professorship and even more responsibility. He is now excited to start his research group at HUJI, where he will use combinatorial science to further explore his ideas on the non-equilibrium growth of semiconducting heteroanionic functional thin films, particularly oxynitride perovskites, for solar energy conversion.