The laboratory of surface chemistry and in situ/ operando spectroscopy, led by Prof. Christian Hess, is a multidisciplinary research group that works on understanding the mode of operation of catalysts, gas sensors and batteries at a molecular level. Novel spectroscopic approaches are developed and applied to the characterization of materials under working conditions (operando approach). Relations between (defect) structure and activity are studied by combining a variety of spectroscopic techniques. Controlled synthesis as well as nanoscale structuring using atomic-layer deposition enable the design of surfaces for applications in catalysis and alternative energy. We pay particular attention to materials based on metal oxides owing to their interesting surface, optical and electronic properties.