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Christina Birkel

Assistant Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 1604

Christina Birkel joined the faculty of the School of Molecular Sciences in 2019. Prior to her appointment as an assistant professor at ASU, she held an Athene Young Investigator (junior research group leader) position at the Technische Universität (TU) Darmstadt, Germany (2013-2018). During that time, she also completed her Habilitation in the Department of Chemistry at TU Darmstadt. Before her independent career, she was a postdoctoral researcher in the groups of Prof. Galen Stucky and Prof. Ram Seshadri at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB, 2011-2013). At UCSB, she focused on the development of non-conventional solid-state synthesis methods to prepare (mostly intermetallic and oxide) energy (e.g. thermoelectric and phosphor) materials. She received her doctorate (Dr. rer. nat., summa cum laude) in late 2010 with a double-degree from the University of Mainz, Germany and Seoul National University, South Korea working with Prof. Wolfgang Tremel and Prof. Kookheon Char. Her graduate work involved the wet-chemical synthesis of chalcogenide nanoparticles for thermoelectric applications. 

  • Habilitation, Dr. rer. nat. habil., Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany, 2018
  • Ph.D., Dr. rer. nat. (summa cum laude), Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz, Germany, and Seoul National University, South Korea (double-degree), 2010
  • Diploma, Dipl.-Chem., Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz, Germany, 2007
Research Interests: 

Our research vision is the development of new functional materials (2D and 3D) for energy-relevant applications based on rational syntheses and (micro)structure – properties considerations.

Research Group: 

Stop by and meet us! We are looking for motivated students that are interested in inorganic and materials chemistry and would like to join our team.


Some selected articles include:


  • Synthesis of a Smart Hybrid MXene with Switchable Conductivity for Temperature Sensing, M.H. Tran, R. Brilmayer, L. Liu, H. Zhuang, C. Hess, A. Andrieu-Brunsen, C.S. Birkel, ACS Applied Nano Materials.  2020 3 (5) 4069-4076
  • Sol-gel based synthesis and enhanced processability of MAX phase Cr2GaC, J.P. Siebert, L. Bischoff, M. Lepple, A. Zintler, L. Molina-Luna, U. Wiedwald, C.S. Birkel, Journal of Materials Chemistry C.  2019 7 (20) 6034-6040
  • Adding a new member to the MXene family: Synthesis, structure and electrocatalytic activity for the Hydrogen Evolution Reaction of V4C3Tx, M. H. Tran, T. Schäfer, A. Shahraei, M. Dürrschnabel, L. Molina-Luna, U. I. Kramm, C. S. Birkel, ACS Appl. Energy Mater. 2018, 1, 3908
  • Structural, magnetic and electrical transport properties of non-conventionally prepared MAX phases V2AlC and (V/Mn)2AlC, C. M. Hamm, M. Dürrschnabel, L. Molina-Luna, R. Salikhov, D. Spoddig, M. Farle, U. Wiedwald, C. S. Birkel, Mater. Chem. Front. 2018, 2, 483
  • Non-conventional synthesis and magnetic properties of MAX phases (Cr/Mn)2AlC and (Cr/Fe)2AlC, C. M. Hamm, J. D. Bocarsly, G. Seward, U. I. Kramm, C. S. Birkel, J. Mater. Chem. C 2017, 5, 5700
  • Non-conventional Synthesis of the 413 MAX Phase V4AlC3, C. M. Hamm, T. Schäfer, H. Zhang, C. S. Birkel, Zeitschrift fur Anorg. und Allg. Chemie 2016, 642, 1397

Half-Heusler thermoelectrics:

  • Microwave heating and spark plasma sintering as non-conventional synthesis methods to access thermoelectric and magnetic materials, J. P. Siebert, C. M. Hamm, C. S. Birkel, Applied Physics Reviews.  2019, 6
  • Phase stability and property evolution of biphasic Ti–Ni–Sn alloys for use in thermoelectric applications, J. E. Douglas, C. S. Birkel, N. Verma, V. M. Miller, M.-S. Miao, G. D. Stucky, T. M. Pollock, R. Seshadri, J. Appl. Phys. 2014, 115, 43720
  • Improving the thermoelectric properties of half-Heusler TiNiSn through inclusion of a second full-Heusler phase: microwave preparation and spark plasma sintering of TiNi1+xSn, C. S. Birkel, J. E. Douglas, B. R. Lettiere, G. Seward, N. Verma, Y. Zhang, T. M. Pollock, R. Seshadri, G. D. Stucky, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 2013, 15, 6990
  • Influence of Ni nanoparticle addition and spark plasma sintering on the TiNiSn–Ni system: Structure, microstructure, and thermoelectric properties, C. S. Birkel, J. E. Douglas, B. R. Lettiere, G. Seward, Y. Zhang, T. M. Pollock, R. Seshadri, G. D. Stucky, Solid State Sci. 2013, 26, 16
  • Rapid Microwave Preparation of Thermoelectric TiNiSn and TiCoSb Half-Heusler Compounds, C. S. Birkel, W. G. Zeier, J. E. Douglas, B. R. Lettiere, C. E. Mills, G. Seward, A. Birkel, M. L. Snedaker, Y. Zhang, G. J. Snyder, T. M. Pollock, R. Seshadri, G. D. Stucky, Chem. Mater. 2012, 24, 2558

Inorganic nanoparticles:

  • Spectroscopic Signature of the Superparamagnetic Transition and Surface Spin Disorder in CoFe2O4 Nanoparticles, Q. Sun, C. S. Birkel, J. Cao, W. Tremel, J. L. Musfeldt, ACS Nano 2012, 6, 4876
  • Solution synthesis of nanoparticular binary transition metal antimonides., G. Kieslich, C. S. Birkel, A. Stewart, U. Kolb, W. Tremel, Inorg. Chem. 2011, 50, 6938
  • Wet Chemical Synthesis and a Combined X-ray and Moessbauer Study of the Formation of FeSb2 Nanoparticles, C. S. Birkel, G. Kieslich, D. Bessas, T. Claudio, R. Branscheid, U. Kolb, M. Panthöfer, P. Hermann, W. Tremel, Inorg. Chem. 2011, 50, 11807
  • Solution synthesis of a new thermoelectric Zn(1+x)Sb nanophase and its structure determination using automated electron diffraction tomography., C. S. Birkel, E. Mugnaioli, T. Gorelik, U. Kolb, M. Panthöfer, W. Tremel, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2010, 132, 9881
  • Preparation and characterization of Pd2Sn nanoparticles, K. Page, C. S. Schade, J. Zhang, P. J. Chupas, K. W. Chapman, T. Proffen, A. K. Cheetham, R. Seshadri, Mater. Res. Bull. 2007, 42, 1969
Research Activity: 

Our group focuses on a broad range of synthesis methods that we use to prepare functional inorganic materials. Our main expertise lies in wet chemical as well as classical and non-conventional (e.g. microwave heating) solid-state techniques. By means of structural (X-ray diffraction) and microstructural (e.g. electron microscopy) analyses, we investigate formation mechanisms and the influence of the synthesis conditions on the final product. We are particularly interested in the magnetic, electronic and catalytic properties of the inorganic solids.

Fall 2020
Course NumberCourse Title
CHM 494Special Topics
CHM 501Current Topics in Chemistry
CHM 598Special Topics
Spring 2020
Course NumberCourse Title
CHM 453Inorganic Chemistry
Honors / Awards: 

Higher Education Teaching Certificate, Technische Universität Darmstadt, 2017

Mentoring program "ProProfessur", Mentoring Hessen, 2016-2017

Feodor Lynen Research Fellowship, Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation, 2011-2013

Best Poster Award, Materials Research Outreach Program, Santa Barbara, 2012

MAINZ Award, MAterials Science IN MainZ, Granted for an outstanding Ph.D. thesis, 2011

Best Poster Award, 451. Wilhelm-Else-Heraeus-Seminar, Bad Honnef, Germany, 2010

PhD Fellowship, Graduate School of Excellence - MAterials Science IN MainZ, 2008-2010

Professional Associations: 

Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker


International Advisory Board of Symposium CE "Progress in Nano-laminated Ternary Carbides, Nitrides and Borides (MAX/MAB) Phases and  Derivatives Thereof (MXenes)" of the International Ceramics Congress (CIMTEC 2020), Italy

Organization of the 680th Wilhelm Else Heraeus Seminar "Materials Development for Automotive Propulsion", Bad Honnef, Germany, 2018

Faculty Search committee, W2 Theoretical Chemistry (tenure-track), Technische Universität Darmstadt, 2017/2018

Steering committee, LOEWE-Research cluster "RESsourcenschonende Permanentmagnete durch Optimierte Nutzung
Seltener Erden (RESPONSE)", Technische Universität Darmstadt, 2014-2018

Active member of interdisciplinary research groups and research profiles, for example "From Material to Product Innovation", Technische Universität Darmstadt, 2014-2018

Mentoring, CyberMentor: Online mentoring program for girls interested in STEM fields