Universiteit Leiden

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Irene Groot

Professor Surface and interface science

Prof.dr. I.M.N. Groot
+31 71 527 7361

Irene Groot investigates the structure-activity relationship of catalysts under industrial conditions using operando scanning probe microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, and surface X-ray diffraction. She focuses on industrial processes related to sustainable energy and materials production.

More information about Irene Groot


Irene Groot was born in Amsterdam. In 1999 she moved to Leiden to study chemistry. During her studies she did two research projects. The first one was performed at Leiden Observatory in the group of Ewine van Dishoeck. Here, Irene studied the physical behavior of CO and CO2 ices under interstellar conditions. Infrared spectra of the ices obtained in the laboratory were compared to spectra from space, thereby shedding light on the composition of ices present in the interstellar medium.
Irene performed her second research project at the University of California, Santa Barbara (USA) in the group of Alec Wodtke. Here, she participated in designing and building an ultrahigh vacuum set-up for the studies of inelastic scattering of HCl from Au(111) using supersonic molecular beams and resonance-enhanced multiphoton ionization spectroscopy.

After returning to Leiden, Irene started her PhD in 2005 under the supervision of Aart Kleyn and Geert-Jan Kroes. In this project she investigated the dissociation of hydrogen on bare and CO-precovered ruthenium, and on stepped platinum surfaces. This research was performed both experimentally, using supersonic molecular beams, and theoretically, using density functional theory and dynamics calculations.

After obtaining her PhD in 2009, Irene moved to the Fritz Haber Institute in Berlin, where she worked as a postdoc with an Alexander von Humboldt fellowship in the group of Hajo Freund. Here, Irene investigated the CO oxidation reaction in the mbar regime on metal oxide model catalysts using scanning tunneling microscopy, infrared spectroscopy, and gas chromatography.

In 2013 Irene obtained a Veni fellowship, with which she started working at the Leiden Institute of Physics in the group of Joost Frenken. Here, she studied the chlorine production reaction on ruthenium dioxide catalysts using high-pressure, high-temperature scanning tunneling microscopy. When Joost Frenken left at the end of 2013, Irene took over the catalysis activities of the group, including operando scanning probe microscopy, surface X-ray diffraction, transmission electron microscopy, and optical microscopy.

In July 2015, Irene moved to the Leiden Institute of Chemistry where she held a tenure-track position in the Catalysis and Surface Chemistry Group to continue her research in heterogeneous catalysis using imaging techniques under industrial conditions of high pressures and temperatures. In June 2018, Irene obtained tenure and became associate professor. As of March 2024, Irene has been appointed Professor of Surface and Interface Science. Her current research topics include high-pressure surface science aimed at fundamental understanding of heterogeneous catalysis, development of operando and in situ equipment, and growth and characterization of 2-dimensional materials on (liquid) metal surfaces.

Curriculum Vitae

Personal information

Nationality:   Dutch
Date of birth:   23 December 1980


2009   PhD, Leiden Institute of Chemistry, Leiden University, The Netherlands, 10 December 2009. Thesis title: The fight for a reactive site
Advisors: Prof. A.W. Kleyn and Prof. G.J. Kroes
2005   MSc in Chemistry, Leiden Institute of Chemistry, Leiden University, The Netherlands

Current and previous research positions

2024 – now   Full Professor of  Surface and Interface Science, Leiden Institute of Chemistry, Leiden University, The Netherlands
2018 – 2024   Associate Professor (tenured), Leiden Institute of Chemistry, Leiden University, The Netherlands
2015 – 2018  Tenure Track Assistant Professor, Leiden Institute of Chemistry, Leiden University, The Netherlands
2014 – 2015   Research Assistant Professor, Leiden Institute of Physics, Leiden University, The Netherlands
2013 – 2016   Postdoctoral researcher (Veni), Leiden Institute of Physics, Leiden University (Prof. J.W.M. Frenken)
2010 – 2012   Alexander von Humboldt Fellow, Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society, Berlin, Germany (Prof. H.J. Freund)

Grants, awards, recognitions since 2010

2023   H2020 CL4 grant ‘2D Engine’ (k€ 520)
2023   TKI Chemie PPP grant with Leiden Probe Microscopy (k€ 45)
2021   ESRF PhD student grant (k€ 200)
2020   H2020-MSCA ITN ‘StiBNite’ (k€ 228)
2020   NWO-ENW XL ‘Nanoplastics’ (k€ 431)
2020   H2020-EIC-FET ProAct ‘DirectSepa (k€ 146)​​​​​​​
2019   NWO FOM grant (k€ 225)​​​​​​​
2018   NWO Aspasia Prize (k€ 200)​​​​​​​
2018   NWO Vidi Fellowship (k€ 800)
2016   EU FET Open Grant ‘LMCat’ (programme leader) (k€ 652)
2016   NWO-CW NCI-TA Grant with B.M. Weckhuysen (Utrecht), Shell, DSM-Resolve and LPM (k€ 447)
2016   ESRF PhD student grant (k€ 102)
2016   NWO-EW Supercomputing grant
2016   July and November: Beam time at ESRF Grenoble
2015   NWO-CW CatC1Chem Grant with L.B.F. Juurlink (k€ 267)
2015   NWO-EW Supercomputing grant
2015   Beam time at ESRF Grenoble
2015   Finalist Gerhard Ertl Young Scientist Award
2012   NWO/STW Veni Fellowship (k€ 250)
2012   Qualified in global competition to visit the Lindau Noble Laureate Meeting
2010   Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship (k€ 80)

Contribution to teaching and supervision

  • Courses for BSc MST and LST: Chemie en Fysica van Vaste Stoffen, Examples from Sustainable Industry
  • Courses for MSc Chemistry and Physics at Leiden University: Heterogeneous Catalysis, Catalytic Surface Science, and Surface Science.
  • Course for HRSMC PhD and MSc students: Methods in Inorganic Chemistry
  • Courses for Pre-University College at Leiden University

(Co-)supervision of 14 PhD students and 3 postdoctoral fellows since 2015.

Other responsibilities since 2010

  • Guest Editor of Surfaces (2023)
  • Member of Raad van Toezicht Leidse Instrumentmakers School (2022 onwards)
  • Member of the board of the Dutch Catalysis Society (2020 onwards)
  • Member of the review panel Materials Science of the Swedish Research Council (2020)
  • Member of the NWO Veni review committees of Physics and of Applied Sciences (2017, 2018, 2022)
  • Member of the NWO Natuurkunde Groot review committee (2018)
  • Member of the board of the Surface Science Division of the American Vacuum Society (2019 onwards); Program Chair (2023); Chair (2024)
  • Member of the board of the Dutch Nano, Quantum and Materials Physics research community (2018-onwards)
  • Board of RISE
  • Editor of the book: Operando research in heterogeneous catalysis, editors J.W.M. Frenken and I.M.N. Groot, Springer Verlag, in press
  • Chair of the symposium Catalytic Surface Science of the Condensed Matter Division Meeting of the European Physical Society in Groningen, 3-9 September 2016
  • Chair of the jury of the poster prize at Physics@FOM 2016
  • Programme committee of European Conference on Surface Science 2016
  • Chair of the Gordon Research Seminar Dynamics at Surfaces, 2011
  • External member to PhD committee in Sweden
  • Reviewer for Science, Nature Communications, Journal of the American Chemical Society, Journal of Catalysis, Review of Scientific Instruments, Catalysis Today, New Journal of Physics, and Surface Science
  • Reviewer for Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF)
  • Reviewer for Austrian Science Fund (FWF), Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF), European Research Council (starting and advanced grants), Alexander von Humboldt foundation, Islandic Research Fund

Publication record including five recent representative publications

53 papers with >1180 citations, H-index 19 (Web of Science)

Full publication record: Leiden University

  • S. Wenzel, D. Boden, R. van Lent, E. Motaee, M.K. Prabhu, H. Achour, and I.M.N. Groot, Spectroscopic investigation of a Co(0001) model catalyst during exposure to H2 and CO at near-ambient pressures, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 25, 25094 (2023). DOI: 10.1039/D3CP02739B
    Chosen as HOT paper and for front cover
  • I.M.N. Groot, Investigation of Active Catalysts at Work, Acc. Chem. Res. 54, 4334 (2021). DOI: 10.1021/acs.accounts.1c00429
    Invited paper
  • M. Jankowski, M. Saedi, F. la Porta, A.C. Manikas, C. Tsakonas, J.S. Cingolani, M. Andersen, J.M. de Voogd, G.J.C. van Baarle, K. Reuter, C. Galiotis, G. Renaud, O.V. Konovalov and I.M.N. Groot, Real-time monitoring and tailoring of graphene growth on liquid copper, ACS Nano 15, 9638 (2021). DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.0c10377
    Chosen as ESRF Highlight
  • R.V. Mom, J. Louwen, J.W.M. Frenken, I.M.N. Groot, In situ observations of an active MoS2 model hydrodesulfurization catalyst, Nature Commun. 10, 2546 (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-10526-0
  • Spronsen M.A. van, Frenken J.M.W., Groot I.M.N., Surface science under reaction conditions: CO oxidation on Pt and Pd model catalysts. Chem. Soc. Rev. 2017, 46, 4347-4374. DOI: 10.1039/C7CS00045F

Presentations including five presentations at international conferences since 2014

~40 invited presentations at universities, companies and institutes, and invited, keynote and plenary lectures at international conferences since 2014

  • American Chemical Society Meeting (2015, 2017, 2022, 2023)
  • In situ Microscopy meeting of the Royal Society (UK, 2019)
  • Netherlands Catalysis and Chemistry Conference (March 2016)
  • Annual meeting of the German Physical Society (March 2015)
  • American Vacuum Society Meeting (2014, 2019)

Professor Surface and interface science

  • Science
  • Leiden Institute of Chemistry
  • LIC/Energy & Sustainability

Work address

Gorlaeus Building
Einsteinweg 55
2333 CC Leiden
Room number DE003



  • Leidse Instrumentmakers School (LiS) lid raad van toezicht
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