dr. Matteo Monai

dr. Matteo Monai
Room - Vening Meinesz-B 4.44

My research focuses on structure-activity relationships in nanostructured heterogeneous catalysts for small molecules activation (e.g. CO2 hydrogenation, dry methane reforming) and biomass conversion. My aim is to obtain fundamental insights into selective and efficient bond activation (e.g. C-H vs C-O or C-S) by pushing the boundaries of rational catalysts design to break scaling relationships, and by further developing the operando spectroscopy capabilities of the ICC group. I plan to achieve this by three, independent but combinable approaches:

  1. Engineering of metal-support interfaces by advanced synthesis methods
  2. Going beyond metal catalysts, by the synthesis of metal nitride and carbide phases
  3. Employing external stimuli such as stress and light to fine-tune the surface properties and steer catalysis towards desired products.

CO2 hydrogenation and dry methane reforming will be used as proof-of-concept reactions to validate my approaches for waste stream valorization.

Academic Career


2021 – to date: ARC-CBBC Tenure Track Assistant Professor in the Inorganic Chemistry & Catalysis Group at Utrecht University (NL)

Postdoctoral experience

2019- 2021: Postdoctoral research fellow in the group of Inorganic Chemistry and Catalysis at Utrecht University, the Netherlands. Under the supervision of Prof. B.M. Weckhuysen

2017- 2019: ARC-CBBC Postdoctoral research fellow in the group of Inorganic Chemistry and Catalysis at Utrecht University, the Netherlands. Under the supervision of Prof. B.M. Weckhuysen

Early stage researcher

2015-2016: Visiting student at the University of Pennsylvania, in the groups of Prof. R.J. Gorte and C.B. Murray

2014-2017: PhD in Chemistry at the University of Trieste, Under the supervision of Prof. P. Fornasiero. Thesis title: “Nanostructured Materials for Environmental and Energy-related Applications”

2011-2013: Master of Science in Chemistry, University of Trieste

2008-2011: Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, University of Trieste

Awards and Scientific Honors


Robert Karl Grasselli Award (2020), presented to Italian researchers under the age of 37 who have made exceptional contribution to gas phase catalysis.

Eni Young Researcher of the Year Award (2019), annually awarded to 2 Ph.D. research theses, defended in Italian Universities, addressing the topics of action against pollution and climate warming, rehabilitation and reuse of industrial sites and energy storage, production, and efficiency.

Adolfo Parmaliana Award (2017) and Doctoral Thesis Award  “EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste” (2017).

Grants and Fellowships

VENI Grant (2020), project title: “Robust nickel catalysts for cleaner hydrogen production”.

CERIC Grant, distributed research facility program (2015).

INPS PhD Scholarship (2014).

CNR Research Grant (2013).


Vogt, C; Meirer, F; Monai, M; Groeneveld, E; Ferri, D; Santen, R A; Nachtegaal, M; Unocic, R R; Frenkel, A I; Weckhuysen, B M

Dynamic restructuring of supported metal nanoparticles and its implications for structure insensitive catalysis Journal Article

In: Nature Communications, vol. 12, no. 1, 2021.

Links | BibTeX

Delen, G; Monai, M; Meirer, F; Weckhuysen, B M

In situ Nanoscale Infrared Spectroscopy of Water Adsorption on Nanoislands of Surface-Anchored Metal-Organic Frameworks Journal Article

In: Angewandte Chemie - International Edition, vol. 60, no. 3, pp. 1620-1624, 2021.

Links | BibTeX

Fertal, D R; Monai, M; Proaño, L; Bukhovko, M P; Park, J; Ding, Y; Weckhuysen, B M; Banerjee, A C

Calcination temperature effects on Pd/alumina catalysts: Particle size, surface species and activity in methane combustion Journal Article

In: Catalysis Today, vol. 382, pp. 120-129, 2021.

Links | BibTeX

Monai, M; Gambino, M; Wannakao, S; Weckhuysen, B M

Propane to olefins tandem catalysis: A selective route towards light olefins production Journal Article

In: Chemical Society Reviews, vol. 50, no. 20, pp. 11503-11529, 2021.

Links | BibTeX

Moya-Cancino, J G; Honkanen, A -P; Eerden, A M J Van Der; Oord, R; Monai, M; Have, I C Ten; Sahle, C J; Meirer, F; Weckhuysen, B M; Groot, F M F De; Huotari, S

In Situ X-ray Raman Scattering Spectroscopy of the Formation of Cobalt Carbides in a Co/TiO2 Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis Catalyst Journal Article

In: ACS Catalysis, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 809-819, 2021.

Links | BibTeX

Wondergem, C S; Kromwijk, J J G; Slagter, M; Vrijburg, W L; Hensen, E J M; Monai, M; Vogt, C; Weckhuysen, B M

In Situ Shell-Isolated Nanoparticle-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy of Nickel-Catalyzed Hydrogenation Reactions Journal Article

In: ChemPhysChem, vol. 21, no. 7, pp. 625-632, 2020.

Links | BibTeX

Vogt, C; Kranenborg, J; Monai, M; Weckhuysen, B M

Structure Sensitivity in Steam and Dry Methane Reforming over Nickel: Activity and Carbon Formation Journal Article

In: ACS Catalysis, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 1428-1438, 2020.

Links | BibTeX

Vogt, C; Wijten, J H J; Madeira, C L; Kerkenaar, O; Xu, K; Holzinger, R; Monai, M; Weckhuysen, B M

Alkali Promotion in the Formation of CH4 from CO2 and Renewably Produced H2 over Supported Ni Catalysts Journal Article

In: ChemCatChem, vol. 12, no. 10, pp. 2792-2800, 2020.

Links | BibTeX

Vogt, C; Monai, M; Sterk, E B; Palle, J; Melcherts, A E M; Zijlstra, B; Groeneveld, E; Berben, P H; Boereboom, J M; Hensen, E J M; Meirer, F; Filot, I A W; Weckhuysen, B M

Understanding carbon dioxide activation and carbon–carbon coupling over nickel Journal Article

In: Nature Communications, vol. 10, no. 1, 2019.

Links | BibTeX

Vogt, C; Monai, M; Kramer, G J; Weckhuysen, B M

The renaissance of the Sabatier reaction and its applications on Earth and in space Journal Article

In: Nature Catalysis, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 188-197, 2019.

Links | BibTeX