Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Katharina Brinkert

Assistant Professor in Catalysis

Katharina is passionate about natural and artificial photosynthesis research since her school time, where she participated in several science competitions. She received her BSc degree in Chemistry from the University of Bielefeld, Germany, and her MSc degree in Chemistry for Renewable Energy from Uppsala University, Sweden. She carried out her master's degree project at the Center for Bioenergy and Photosynthesis at Arizona State University under the supervision of Prof. Devens Gust. Returning to Uppsala for her first year of PhD studies, she worked with Prof. Stenbjörn Styring and Prof. Leif Hammarström on proton-coupled electron transfer kinetics in nature's water-splitting enzyme, Photosystem II. She then moved to Imperial College London, where she continued investigating electron transfer pathways and their energetics in Photosystem II via spectroelectrochemistry, working with Prof. Bill Rutherford and Dr. Andrea Fantuzzi. Katharina received her Ph.D. from Imperial College London in 2015.

Consecutively, Katharina received a Research Fellowship from the European Space Agency/the Advanced Concepts Team (ESTEC/Noordwijk) for an independent research project on solar hydrogen production in the microgravity environment. She continued her work in the area of artificial photosynthesis, specializing in photoelectrochemistry and photoelectrocatalysis for solar oxygen, fuel and chemical production in terrestrial and microgravity environments. Following her work at ESA, Katharina received a Leopoldina Postdoctoral Scholarship to work with Prof. Harry B. Gray at the California Institute of Technology, where she developed new electrocatalytic materials for electrochemical ammonia production.

Since September 2019, Katharina is an Assistant Professor in Catalysis at Warwick where she does what she always wanted to do: artificial photosynthesis for solar-to-chemical energy conversion. Besides her passion for sciences, she enjoys sports, literature, film and theatre, music, philosophy and politics.

"The Earth should be a better place because a man has lived." - Little Lord Fauntleroy

katharina dot brinkert at warwick dot ac dot uk

(+44) 024 765 75161

Office A107

Dr Katharina Brinkert Research Group

Groups at Warwick


  • Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Member Energy GRP (University of Warwick), Solar Fuels Network UK, Member of the Electrochemical Society, Member of the International Society of Electrochemistry, GDCh


  • University of Bielefeld (Germany), BSc in Chemistry, 2006-2009
  • Uppsala University (Sweden), MSc in Chemistry for Renewable Energies, 2009-2011
  • FernUniversität Hagen (Germany), BA in Cultural Sciences, 2009-2013
  • Since 2016: University of York (UK), Department of Film, Theatre and Media, PhD studies
  • PhD from Imperial College London (UK) in 2015
  • Research Fellow, European Space Agency (Netherlands), 2015-2017
  • Leopoldina Postdoctoral Fellow, Prof. Harry B. Gray, Department of Chemistry, California Institute of Technology (USA), 2017-2019
  • Since 2019: University of Warwick, Department of Chemistry, Assistant Professor in Catalysis

I am working on the following projects at the moment:

  • Solar fuel and oxygen production in reduced gravitational environments
  • Photoelectrocatalytic amination reactions and ammonia production
  • Photoelectrochemical isotope separation

The Brinkert Group is interested in (photo-)electrocatalytic processes for chemical and fuel production in terrestrial and microgravity environments. (Photo-)electrocatalysis is an interdisciplinary field touching physical and inorganic chemistry, semiconductor physics and materials science. The group focuses on the development and investigation of semiconductor-electrocatalyst systems which can electrochemically and sustainably convert earth-abundant feedstocks into value-added chemicals and fuels utilizing sunlight. We are very interested as well in taking our terrestrially developed solar-to-chemical systems into space: an efficient and reliable water-splitting device for oxygen production combined with a fuel producing part utilizing only water, carbon dioxide and sunlight in analogue to natural photosynthesis presents a huge possibility to realize long-term space travel.

We are always keen to extend our team! Please get in touch if you are interested in a master’s project, PhD or postdoctoral work and check our website for recent openings.

Katharina teaches in the "CH160: Introduction to Inorganic Chemistry" undergraduate module and in the energy modules CH416 and CH3F7. Furthermore, she is involved in the lab courses CH155 "Practical and Professional Chemistry Skills I" and CH915 "Techniques in Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis" as well as in tutorials of CH273 "Statistical Mechanics & Properties of Solutions and Foundations of Electrochemistry".

I am supervising the following PhD students:

  • Ömer Akay, FU Berlin, "Solar hydrogen and oxygen production in microgravity environment"
  • Shaumica Saravanabavan, University of Warwick, "Solar-assisted oxygen and fuel production for long-term space travels and moon habitats" (co-funded by ESA)

At the moment I am unable to accept any further applications, but if you are interested in working with us, I would be happy to assist you with fellowship applications.

Selected Publications

(1) Cathodic NH4+ Leaching of Nitrogen Impurities in CoMo Thin-film Electrodes in Aqueous Acidic Solutions. Sustain. Energ. Fuels. 4, 5080-5087. doi: 10.1039/D0SE00674B.

(2) Brinkert K.*, Akay Ö., Richter M. H., Liedtke, J., Fountaine, K. T., Lewerenz, H. J., Giersig, M (2019). Experimental Methods for Efficient Solar Hydrogen Production in Microgravity Environment. J. Vis. Exp. (154), e59122. doi:10.3791/59122.

(3) Brinkert K.*, Richter M. H., Akay Ö., Liedtke J., Giersig M., Fountaine K. T., Lewerenz H. J. (2018). Efficient Solar Hydrogen Production in Microgravity Environment. Nat. Commun. 9 (2527). doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-04844-y

(4) Brinkert, K. (2018). Energy Conversion in Natural and Artificial Photosynthesis, SpringerBriefs in Chemical Physics. Springer International Publishing AG. ISBN 978-3-319-77980-5

(5) Brinkert K.*, Richter M., Akay Ö., Giersig M., Katherine T. Fountaine, Lewerenz H. J. (2018). Advancing Semiconductor-Electrocatalyst Systems: Application of Surface Transformation Films and Nanosphere Lithography. Faraday Discuss. 208, 523-535. doi: 10.1039/C8FD00003D

(6) Brinkert K., De Causmaecker S., Krieger-Liszkay A., Fantuzzi A., Rutherford A. W. (2016). Bicarbonate-induced Redox Tuning in Photosystem II for Regulation and Protection. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 113 (43) 12144-12149. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1608862113

(7) Mersch D., Lee C.-Y., Zhang J. Z., Brinkert K., Fontecilla-Camps J. C., Rutherford A. W. & Reisner, E. (2015). Wiring of Photosystem II to a Hydrogenase for Photoelectrochemical Water Splitting. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 137 (26), 8541-8549. doi: 10.1021/jacs.5b03737

(8) Pullen S. & Brinkert K.* (2014). SolEn for a Sustainable Future: Developing and Teaching a Multidisciplinary Course on Solar Energy to Further Sustainable Education in Chemistry. J. Chem. Educ. 91 (10), 1569-1573. doi: 10.1021/ed400345m.

Further publications