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Interview: Real time investigation of crystal growth

The zoomposium “The State and Direction of Swedish Inorganic Chemistry” takes place on October 27. The day is composed of several interesting presentations. One of the speakers is Kimberly Dick Thelander, Professor of Materials Science at Lund University.

In her presentation, “Real time investigation of crystal growth and nucleation of inorganic nanostructures” she will give some insight into her work, where the aim is to design different materials to give them new properties.

Kimberly Dick Thelander.

– What we are doing is essentially materials chemistry, she says.

– We mostly work with semiconductors and interfaces between semiconductors and metals. We investigate how different crystal structures are linked to certain properties, and if the properties of a material can be predicted.

Her group uses electron microscopy to study in real time what happens during crystal growth on an atomic level.

– We are following the process to learn what happens during a chemical reaction, and how different circumstances give rise to different outcomes.

One example of a project that her research group has been involved in focused on the formation of semiconductor nanostructures.

– We knew that they could form different structures which could have very different properties from each other, but we didn’t know why, so we studied which conditions gave rise to one structure or another.

These semiconductor nanostructures could absorb photons and emit light, and they are now being studied as a material for quantum devices. Those studies are not done by Kimberly and her research group however. Instead, they are focusing on fundamental materials chemistry.

– We are not really making anything, we just study the processes. Every project is different and we try to answer different questions that exist with certain reactions. The idea is that, after we are done with a project, the process can be upscaled by someone else.

An ongoing project in the group revolves around a semiconductor that could be used for energy storage in batteries. It consists of zinc phosphide, Zn3P2, an abundant material that could be of interest as a constituent of solar cells.

– We found that if you made small crystal structures of this material some of them can be used very effectively for energy storage. Our aim now is to control the stoichiometry of the synthesis of the crystals.

Learn more about Kimberly Dick Thelander’s work at the zoomposium “The State and Direction of Swedish Inorganic Chemistry”, which takes place on October 27. Read more and register here: The state and direction for Swedish inorganic chemistry – Webbinar 27 October 2021 (

Who should listen to your presentation?

– Anyone with an interest in materials, especially if you like very fundamental chemistry.