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Professor Johan Martens

Expert in porous materials

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Professor Johan Martens is a full-time professor at KU Leuven, chemist and expert in catalysts, adsorbents and molecular processes. He is active in a diversity of fields, ranging from the chemical industry and medical technology to sustainable energy and environmental protection. He has extensive experience in research management both at the level of his research group and the university. He has made no less than 150 inventions, has established a pharmaceutical company, an engineering company and an innovative aquaculture farm.


Today, he directs the Characterization and Application team of the Center for Surface Chemistry and Catalysis at the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering at KU Leuven. In this well-equipped laboratory, he builds on his long-standing experience in increasing fundamental knowledge on chemistry and physics of surfaces, while at the same time developing applications leading to several start-up companies. Martens’ group has published more than 750 peer reviewed manuscripts and was cited more than 18,000 times.


The thread that links all of his work? Martens’ deep knowledge of how molecules move and react in tiny pores. Understanding molecular processes in pores does not only open up new technical possibilities such as high-performance solar panels trapping water vapor from air and converting them into hydrogen and oxygen gas, but also medical enhancements such as vaccines which penetrate the membranes of target cells more effectively.

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