Dr. Thomas Huthwelker

Thomas Huthwelker

Group Leader

Paul Scherrer Institute
Forschungsstrasse 111
5232 Villigen PSI

Thomas Huthwelker is senior scientist and group leader of the group ‘In-situ spectroscopy for environmental science’ at the Photon Science Division (PSD) at the Swiss Light Source. The group operates the PHOENIX beamline. Thomas Huthwelker studied physics at the University of Bonn (Germany). He received a PhD in Physics from the University of Bonn (Germany) with a PhD Thesis on uptake processes of HCl on ice, performed at the Max-Planck-Institute for Chemistry in Mainz (Germany).  As postdoc at ETH Zurich (Switzerland), with a simultaneously faculty adjunct position at SUNY, Albany (USA), he used ion beam analysis to further study the trace gas–ice interaction. Joining the surface chemistry group at the Paul Scherrer Institut in Villigen, he started to apply synchrotron-based techniques, most notably X-ray tomography, X-ray microscopy and spectroscopy to problems related to environmental science. He has designed and built the PHOENIX beamline at the Swiss Light Source and heads the team, which operates the beamline.

Thomas Huthwelker is responsible for the management, operation, and strategic planning of the PHOENIX beamline, which offers novel advanced synchrotron based methods for the tender and soft X-ray domain. As group leader, he heads the inhouse research program and is responsible for beamline development and to optimize the beamline use in intensive scientific collaboration with Swiss and international users. These activities include the supervision of PhD Students and postdocs. Further institutional responsibilities include the membership in the PSI Research Commission and the PSI Safety Commission.

The research of Thomas Huthwelker aims to explore the functionality, formation, nucleation and growth of environmentally relevant materials, such as ice and mostly inorganic minerals, in different time and length scales using synchrotron-based techniques. This scientific interest drives the development of new advanced techniques in the tender and soft X-Ray regime, which are required for spectroscopic study of low-Z elements. Recent research focused on the carbonates, which provide an important model system for nucleation studies, and are key materials for novel carbon capture technologies.  Research activities include the development of new aerosol based synthesis methods for amorphous matter, the investigation of the incorporation of magnesium in rich calcites and the role of ion pairing for the nucleation of carbonates.

This research interest drives the beamline development, most notably the implementation of liquid microjet, microfluidics systems and aerosol systems, and 2D chemical imaging in the micrometer scale. Furthermore, Thomas Huthwelker currently drives the development of synchtrotron based emission spectroscopy in the tender X-ray range, to make micro-XES and micro-RIXS accessible as a routine technique for studies of low-Z elements at the PHOENIX beamline.

For a complete list of publications see DORA PSI , list of all publications prior to 2018:

Own research

Xto JM, Du H, Borca CN, Amstad E, van Bokhoven JA, Huthwelker T
Tuning the incorporation of magnesium into calcite during its crystallization from additive-free aqueous solution
Crystal Growth and Design. 2019; 19(8): 4385-4394. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.cgd.9b00179(link is external)

Xto JM, Borca CN, van Bokhoven JA, Huthwelker T
Aerosol-based synthesis of pure and stable amorphous calcium carbonate
Chemical Communications. 2019; 55(72): 10725-10728. https://doi.org/10.1039/C9CC03749G(link is external)

Xto J, Wetter R, Borca CN, Frieh C, van Bokhoven JA, Huthwelker T
Droplet-based in situ X-ray absorption spectroscopy cell for studying crystallization processes at the tender X-ray energy range
RSC Advances. 2019; 9(58): 34004-34010. https://doi.org/10.1039/C9RA06084G(link is external)

Henzler K, Fetisov EO, Galib M, Baer MD, Legg BA, Borca C, et al.
Supersaturated calcium carbonate solutions are classical
Science Advances. 2018; 4(1): eaao6283 (11 pp.). https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aao6283(link is external)

Pin S, Huthwelker T, Brown MA, Vogel F
Combined sulfur K-edge XANES-EXAFS study of the effect of protonation on the sulfate tetrahedron in solids and solutions
Journal of Physical Chemistry A. 2013; 117(35): 8368-8376. https://doi.org/10.1021/jp404272e(link is external)

Kerbrat M, Pinzer B, Huthwelker T, Gäggeler HW, Ammann  M, Schneebeli M
Measuring the specific surface area of snow with X-ray tomography and gas adsorption: Comparison and implications for surface smoothness
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 2008; 8(5): 1261-1275. https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-8-1261-2008

Huthwelker T, Ammann M, Peter, T
The uptake of acidic gases on ice.

Chemical Reviews,  2006; 106(4), 1375-1444. https://doi.org/10.1021/cr020506v

Krieger, UK., Huthwelker T., Daniel C., Weers U., Peter, T., Lanford, W.A.
Rutherford Backscattering to Study the Near-Surface Region of Volatile Liquids and Solids
Science. 2002; 295(5557): 1048-1050 https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1066654


Du H, Courrégelongue C, Xto J, Böhlen A, Steinacher M, Borca CN, et al.
Additives: their influence on the humidity- and pressure-induced crystallization of amorphous CaCO3
Chemistry of Materials. 2020; https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.chemmater.0c00975(link is external)

Höltschi L, Jud F, Borca C, Huthwelker T, Villevieille C, Pelé V, et al.
Study of graphite cycling in sulfide solid electrolytes
Journal of the Electrochemical Society. 2020; 167(11): 110558 (10 pp.). https://doi.org/10.1149/1945-7111/aba36f(link is external)

van Veelen A, Koebernick N, Scotson CS, McKay‐Fletcher D, Huthwelker T, Borca CN, et al.
Root induced soil deformation influences Fe, S and P: rhizosphere chemistry investigated using synchrotron XRF and XAS
New Phytologist. 2020; 225: 1476-1490. https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.16242(link is external)

Geng G, Shi Z, Leemann A, Borca C, Huthwelker T, Glazyrin K, et al.
Atomistic structure of alkali-silica reaction products refined from X-ray diffraction and micro X-ray absorption data
Cement and Concrete Research. 2020; 129: 105958 (11 pp.). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cemconres.2019.105958(link is external)

Kulka A, Marino C, Walczak K, Borca C, Bolli C, Novák P, et al.
Influence of Na/Mn arrangements and P2/P'2 phase ratio on the electrochemical performance of NaxMnO2 cathodes for sodium-ion batteries
Journal of Materials Chemistry A. 2020; 8(12): 6022-6033. https://doi.org/10.1039/C9TA12176E(link is external)

Duignan TT, Schenter GK, Fulton JL, Huthwelker T, Balasubramanian M, Galib M, et al.
Quantifying the hydration structure of sodium and potassium ions: taking additional steps on Jacob's Ladder
Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics. 2019. https://doi.org/10.1039/C9CP06161D(link is external)

Du H, Steinacher M, Borca C, Huthwelker T, Murello A, Stellacci F, et al.
Amorphous CaCO3: influence of the formation time on its degree of hydration and stability
Journal of the American Chemical Society. 2018; 140(43): 14289-14299. https://doi.org/10.1021/jacs.8b08298(link is external)

Hiller D, Göttlicher J, Steininger R, Huthwelker T, Julin J, Munnik F, et al.
Structural properties of Al-O monolayers in SiO2 on silicon and the maximization of their negative fixed charge density
ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. 2018; 10(36): 30495-30505. https://doi.org/10.1021/acsami.8b06098(link is external)

Vjunov A, Fulton JL, Camaioni DM, Hu JZ, Burton SD, Arslan I, et al.
Impact of aqueous medium on zeolite framework integrity
Chemistry of Materials. 2015; 27(9): 3533-3545. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.chemmater.5b01238(link is external)

Galib M, Baer MD, Skinner LB, Mundy CJ, Huthwelker T, Schenter GK, et al.
Revisiting the hydration structure of aqueous Na+
Journal of Chemical Physics. 2017; 146(8): 84504. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.4975608(link is external)

Fulton JL, Govind N, Huthwelker T, Bylaska EJ, Vjunov A, Pin S, et al.
Electronic and chemical state of aluminum from the single- (K) and double-electron excitation (KLII&III, KLI) X-ray absorption near-edge spectra of α-alumina, sodium aluminate, aqueous Al3+·(H2O)6, and aqueous Al(OH)4-
Journal of Physical Chemistry B. 2015; 119(26): 8380-8388. https://doi.org/10.1021/jp511602n(link is external)