Horizon2020 Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions Individual fellowship (MSCA-IF) “Silica and Alumina Nanophases – The Building Blocks for the Ground under our Feet (NanoSiAl)”

The main objective of the NanoSiAl project is to develop, test and validate the methods for the direct in situ and real-time structural and kinetic characterization of the alumina and silica colloid formation pathways at the length-scale of <100 nm.


Alumina and silica nanophases play a crucial role in rock weathering and their formation and destruction controls Earth’s response to global climate change. The presence of various products of aqueous weathering of aluminosilicates points to a complex activity of water, and is considered as the geological indication for the occurrence of life-habitable conditions. In this regard, a more complete picture of the water-alumina-silica interactions would allow for better specifying the molecular-level conditions for early life. Upon weathering the original Al- and Si-containing phases are dissolved at the solid-water interface, undergo hydrolysis and condensation reactions and form new colloidal nanoparticles. However, quantitative and mechanistic understanding of the underlying processes that lead to the formation and types of Al and Si phases is still lacking, due to the insufficient in situ methodology providing structural information about the colloidal species in solution.

For more details, please contact Dr. Tomek Stawski

Recent Publications

(authors from the group in bold)

Stawski, T., van den Heuvel, D.B., Besselink, R., Tobler, D.J., & Benning, L.G. (2019). Mechanism of silica–lysozyme composite formation unravelled by in situ fast SAXS. Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology, 10, 182-197. DOI:

van den Heuvel, D. B., Gunnlaugsson, E., Gunnarsson, I., Stawski, T., Peacock, C. L., & Benning, L. G. (2018). Understanding amorphous silica scaling under well-constrained conditions inside geothermal pipelines. Geothermics, 76, 231-241. DOI: 10.1016/j.geothermics.2018.07.006.

van den Heuvel, D. B., Stawski, T., Tobler, D. J., Wirth, R., Peacock, C. L., & Benning, L. G. (2018). Formation of silica-lysozyme composites through co-precipitation and adsorption. Frontiers in Materials, 5: 19. DOI: 10.3389/fmats.2018.00019.

Project Details

Project period: 2017-2019

Funding: Horizon2020 MSCA-ITN (Grant no. 703015)

Link: NanoSiAl on EU's CORDIS database

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