Catalysis and Surface Science
Surface chemistry, catalysis, sensors, diffusion in solids, fuel cells, magnetic recording, molecular simulation, surface chirality, high throughput methods in surface science.
The Catalysis and Surface Science group within the Department of Chemical Engineering comprises a wide range of research areas including catalytic properties of surfaces, enantioselectivity on chiral surfaces, sensor development, transport in porous solids, molecular simulation, and high throughput methods of surface science. The group expertise includes both advanced experimental methods for materials characterization and synthesis as well as advanced theoretical and computational methods for simulation and understanding of novel solid properties. The group benefits from a well-equipped surface science laboratory.
The faculty, Andy Gellman, John Kitchin, Jim Miller, and Myung Jhon have backgrounds and degrees in chemical engineering, chemistry, physics, and materials science, bringing an extremely diverse set of disciplines and expertise to the group. Their individual research groups include roughly twenty graduate students and a few postdocs.
The interests in chemical reaction catalysis of this group overlap strongly with the super-group Energy Science and Engineering described later, largely based on a collaboration with the DOE National Energy Technology Laboratory located in Pittsburgh. The focus of that work is catalytic processes for fossil fuel conversion, CO2 activation and capture, and alloy development. Projects include the development of high throughput catalytic reactor systems for rapid screening of alloy catalysts and optimization of catalytic alloy compositions.
Three other examples give an idea of the range of research being conducted. Numerous technological and materials problems such as the effectiveness and stability of lubricants in magnetic disk drive technology must be solved. Myung Jhon participates in the Data Storage Systems Center, a former National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center devoted to the development of data storage technologies. Andy Gellman investigates the enantiospecific properties of chiral surfaces and chiral materials. Chiral molecules and surfaces exhibit "handedness.” Often the active form of a chiral pharmaceutical is only one of the two possible and enantioselective chemical process must be developed to produce only that enantiomer. These issues are of critical importance for the synthesis of enantiomerically pure pharmaceuticals. John Kitchin is developing new computational methods for accurately and conveniently calculating the properties of oxides, with applications in materials design, chemical looping, catalysis, and electrochemical water splitting. Jim Miller and Andy Gellman are developing and applying high throughput methods for study of alloy surface science across alloy composition space.