Building Energy Materials  
Superinsulating materials
Advanced sol-gel materials

Laboratory for Building Energy Materials and Components

  RT1 Superinsulating materials                                  RT2 Advanced sol-gel materials                                   RT3 Building integration


We are a leading provider of advanced materials with a view on applications and integration of new solutions into next-generation energy-efficient Building concepts.

Our mission is to provide new materials solutions on the basis of wet chemical / sol-gel methods and to implement these across the board in the built environment. In this sense, we see ourselves as an innovator with focus on the “Energy & Buildings” topic. The lab features two groups, RT1 and RT2, which serve as competence toolboxes with main activities in superinsulation (materials and systems), aerogel technology and inorganic functional energy materials (carbons, complex inorganic oxides and thin films) and related conversion and storage systems. The materials competence is then linked to building applications through the integration and applications group (RT3).

Our core competences
• Sol-gel chemical synthesis methods
• Preparation of various types of aerogel and thin film materials
• Ambient and supercritical drying of aerogels
• Systematic modification of physical properties by chemical modification of aerogels
• Organic / inorganic composite materials
• Pore structure engineering
• Scale-up of production technology for industrial manufacture of aerogels
• Various state-of-the-art characterization methods (SEM, TEM, solid state NMR, spectroscopy, X-Ray tomography, scattering and imaging techniques, advanced in-situ methods)
• Liquid solder anodic bonding for direct glass to metal bonding (vacuum glazing edge sealing)
• Integration aspects and development of product prototypes
• Building physical evaluation of new applications for superinsulating materials and components

Diversity of research activities and projects

Our laboratory seeks a healthy mix of fundamental research activities and projects (SNF, European Commission, own funding) to secure a place at the forefront of academic research in the aerogel materials topic. These activities are complemented by applied R&D projects with other academic research institutes and industry partners and are typically funded through BFE, CTI, the European Commission but also through direct industry sponsorship.


We offer custom R&D development of new advanced aerogel and related composite materials solutions from lab to pilot scale and from raw materials to product prototypes. For further information please inquire by phone or email (see contact address below). Classical services in the building materials topic (measurements, accredited testing, certification of products etc.) are not part of our offered services.

Technology transfer activities

Teaching activities

- ETH Zürich D-Arch: Module Building Materials
- ETH Zürich MBS program (Master of Integrated Building Systems): Module Materials and Construction
- Supervision of Master and PhD theses

Spinoff company

A startup company targeting the low-cost production of aerogel materials for building insulation is currently in its founding phase.

Publications highlights

Zhao, S.; Zhang, Z.; Sèbe, G.; Wu, R.; Rivera Virtudazo, R. V.; Tingaut, P.; Koebel, M.. M.; “Multiscale Assembly of Superinsulating Silica Aerogels Within Silylated Nanocellulosic Scaffolds: Improved Mechanical Properties Promoted by Nanoscale Chemical Compatibilization.”, Advanced Functional Materials, 2015, 25, 2326-2334

Malfait W. J., Verel R., and Koebel M. M. “Hydrophobization of Silica Aerogels: Insights from Quantitative Solid-State NMR Spectroscopy” J. Phys. Chem. C, 2014, 118, 25545-25554.

Nadargi, D.; Kelly, C.; Wehrs, J.; Philippe, L.; Michler, J.; Koebel, M. M.; “Epoxide Assisted Metal Oxide Replication (EAMOR): a new technique of patterning metal oxide structures”, RSC Advances, 2014, 4, 36494-36497

Wong, J.; Kaymak, H., Brunner S.; Koebel, M. M. "Mechanical properties of monolithic silica aerogels made from polyethoxydisiloxanes", Micropor. Mesopor. Mat., 2014, 183, 23-29

Koebel, M. M.; Rigacci, A.; Achard, P.; "Aerogel-based thermal superinsulation: an overview", Invited review, J. Sol-Gel Sci. Technol., 2012, 63(3), 315-339

Koebel, M. M.; Nadargi, D.; Jimenez-Cadena, G.; Romanyuk, Y.; "Transparent, conducting ATO thin films by epoxide-initiated sol-gel chemistry: a highly versatile route to mixed metal oxide films", ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, 2012, 4 (5), 2464–2473

Giovanetti, L. J.; Ramallo-López, J. M. Foxe, M.; Jones, L. C.; Koebel, M. M.; Somorjai, G. A.; Craievich, A. F.; Salmeron, M. B.; Requejo, F. G.; “Shape Changes of Pt Nanoparticles Induced by Deposition on Mesoporous Silica”, Small, 2012, 8(3), 468-473

Koebel, M.M.; El Hawi, N.; Lu, J.; Gattiker, F.; Neuenschwander, J.; “Anodic bonding of activated tin solder alloys in the liquid state: A novel large-area hermetic glass sealing method”, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, 2011, 95(11), 3001-3008

Our Research Topics (research groups)

Matthias Koebel, Head of Laboratory a.i. (
Empa – Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology
Überlandstrasse 129
CH-8600 Dübendorf
T +41 58 765 11 11 (Zentrale)
F +41 58 765 11 22

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