News & Upcoming Events

11/16/2010 - 17:34

Chemistry Professor Paul F. Barbara, 57, one of The University of Texas at Austin’s most prominent scientists, died on Oct. 31 due to complications following cardiac arrest.

Paul BarbaraBarbara held the Richard J. V. Johnson Welch Regents’ Chair in Chemistry. He received many awards and accolades throughout his career, beginning with a Presidential Young Investigator Award in 1984. In 2009, he was awarded the E. Bright Wilson Award in Spectroscopy by the American Chemical Society, recognizing his innovative experimental probes of the dynamics of chemical processes. In 2006, Barbara was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the most prestigious association of scientists in the nation. For 15 years he was senior editor for one of the premier chemistry journals, Accounts of Chemical Research.

Barbara’s recent research probed the molecular arrangement of individual polymer molecules in order to understand how this structure affects the molecular behavior in complex environments, such as plastic solar cells. Earlier work in his labs involved ultrafast measurements to study how electrons exchange between molecules and move through liquids. During his career, he published more than 200 influential and widely cited journal articles. He was also a mentor to more than 100 graduate students and postdoctoral research fellows. Thirty-four are now professors at universities in the United States, Asia and Europe.

Barbara was a campus leader in stimulating collaborative research efforts. In 2000, he founded the university’s Center for Nano and Molecular Science and Technology, which grew from a grassroots faculty effort to become a cornerstone of nanoscience research for the university’s science and engineering community. Barbara steered the campaign for a central nanoscience facility on campus, leading in 2006 to the $37 million Nano Science and Technology building (now the Larry R. Faulkner Nano Science and Technology Building). This building houses more than $17 million in scientific equipment that is used in the research by more than 300 students and faculty each year.

In 2009 the U.S. Department of Energy awarded $13 million to a team of university faculty led by Barbara to study the fundamental chemical processes that limit the efficiency of plastic solar cell materials. This award represents the largest single program at The University of Texas at Austin to be funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“This is a terrible loss for the College of Natural Sciences, the university and for me personally,” said Mary Ann Rankin, dean of the College of Natural Sciences. “Paul was a brilliant scientist and visionary leader and was tireless in pursuit of resources and talent for our nanoscience program. He leaves a large group of students, staff, postdoctoral associates and faculty colleagues behind who were expecting to work with him for years to come. I count myself among those who relied on Paul for advice and leadership. We have lost our guiding star and a great friend.”

Barbara grew up in New York City and received his bachelor of science degree in chemistry at Hofstra University in 1974. He completed his doctor’s degree at Brown University in 1978, and pursued postdoctoral studies at Bell Laboratories until 1980. Prior to joining The University of Texas at Austin Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in 1998, Barbara was a faculty member for 18 years at the University of Minnesota, where he was named 3M-Alumni Distinguished Professor of Chemistry.

Barbara is survived by his wife Sharon, son Jason, daughter Juliet, three grandchildren, his brother and sister.

A memorial service is scheduled for December 12, 2010 at 11 a.m. in the Etter-Harbin Alumni Center.

Click through for Peter Rossky and Gilbert Walker's retrospective article in Science.


10/11/2010 - 12:13

This guest editorial is by Allen J. Bard, a chemistry professor and director of the Center for Electrochemistry at the University of Texas, Austin. The culture of academic research has shifted over the past 50 years from research evaluation based on teaching, creativity, and productivity to one based simply on the amount of money (often now called “resources”) raised. A number of factors have played a role in this change: the “business model” for universities, an increased willingness to accept greed as a virtue in our society and as a measure of success, and a desire for an easy “objective” measure of something that is otherwise difficult to quantify. See the rest of this article at C&EN online.

12/13/2010 update: see story here.

10/07/2010 - 16:24

Allen J. Bard, Honorary Fellow of the Chinese Chemical SocietyCenter for Electrochemistry Executive Director Allen J. Bard has been elected an Honorary Fellow of the Chinese Chemical Society (CCS). This is the highest honor that CCS can bestow on an individual and it is only conferred on eminent chemists who have made significant contributions to the advancement of chemistry.
Professor Bard was recognized for helping to advance the progress of chemistry in China and for facilitating international cooperation and exchanges in the field of chemistry between China and the other parts of the world.

09/08/2010 - 14:02

Power lines and sunOn October 10, 2010, during the fall meeting of the Electrochemical Society in Las Vegas, Professor Jeremy Meyers will present a short course on grid-scale energy storage. This course is intended for chemists, physicists, materials scientists, and engineers to better understand the specific requirements for energy storage on the electric grid.

The course will introduce students to the concepts associated with the "smart grid" and the demands that intermittent renewable power sources place on the grid from the perspective of distribution. We will then examine some of the key technologies under consideration for energy storage and the technical targets and challenges that must be addressed. Students will be brought up to date with the current state of the art, and review data from demonstration systems, experimental data from prototype designs, and some modeling and analysis. The following areas will be covered in this short course:

    * introduction to the electric grid and renewable power sources;
    * current role of energy storage on the grid;
    * location and deployment of energy storage on the "smart grid";
    * existing technologies for energy storage on the grid;
    * adaptation of secondary batteries for grid-based storage applications;
    * redox flow batteries;
    * high-temperature batteries for energy storage;
    * novel battery concepts;
    * materials and engineering challenges for grid storage; and
    * diagnostics and characterization techniques.

For more information please visit The Electochemical Society website.

08/13/2010 - 13:07

Larry FaulknerThe University of Texas at Austin's nanoscience building has been named the Larry R. Faulkner Nano Science and Technology Building by the UT System Board of Regents, in recognition of former President Faulkner's leadership in bringing the university's nanotechnology program to national prominence.

The 82,463-square-foot Nano Science and Technology Building at 102 East 24th St. behind the new Norman Hackerman Building was completed in 2006.

The state-of-the-art educational and research facility houses programs for the promotion of nanoscience and nanotechnology. Nanoscience is driving fundamental research in many areas of science and engineering, including the development of new solar energy technologies, health diagnostics and treatments, and energy storage devices.

Faulkner was president of The University of Texas at Austin from April 1998 through January 2006. He received his doctor's degree in chemistry from the university in 1969 and worked in the lab of Chemistry Professor Allen Bard.

He was on the chemistry faculties and in leadership positions at Harvard University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and The University of Texas at Austin. With Allen Bard he is the co-author of the prominent text "Electrochemical Methods: Fundamentals and Applications."

Faulkner has received numerous prestigious awards and honors, including election into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is president of the Houston Endowment, Inc., and is president emeritus of The University of Texas at Austin.

The College of Natural Sciences, which is home to the Center for Nano and Molecular Science and Technology and Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, is also raising funds to establish the Larry R. Faulkner Departmental Chair for Excellence in Chemistry and Biochemistry.

For more information on nanoscience and nanotechnology research in the College of Natural Sciences and at the university, visit the Center for Nano and Molecular Science and Technology Web site.

08/10/2010 - 13:46

Job opportunities are available from many of the CEC Industrial Affiliates. To review the latest openings, visit the Jobs page. For more information about the Industrial Affilates and links to each company, visit the Industry page.

06/18/2010 - 13:00

WNYC logoToday on Leonard Lopate's "Please Explain" radio show on WNYC 93.9 fm / am 820, CEC faculty member Jeremy P. Meyers was featured along with M. Stanley Whittingham, Professor of Chemistry and Materials Science & Engineering, and Director, Institute for Materials Research, SUNY at Binghamton. The discussion centered around batteries of all kinds, but encompassed varied topics as well, such as the development and history of electrochemistry and some common misconceptions about batteries and electricity. The show can be heard online here.

Lopate's talk show airs on WNYC from noon to 2 pm every weekday, as well as on XM Satellite Radio Channel 133 every weekday from 4 pm to 6 pm (EST). Segments of the show are available as podcasts found on iTunes and on the station's website. "Please Explain" airs every Friday at noon, and is a weekly feature on The Leonard Lopate Show.

Dr. Meyers's research group conducts research on batteries, fuel cells, and other electrochemical energy systems, developing mathematical models and performing experiments to identify new materials, or to elucidate mechanisms that affect the performance and robustness of these devices.

04/23/2010 - 11:22

The date for the third annual Workshop on Electrochemistry has been set for February 19-20, 2011. Specific topics will be announced later this year, and more information is available on the Events page.

Photo of speakers from 2010 Workshop on ElectrochemistryThe previous Workshop, entitled Mechanistic Electrochemistry and Electroanalysis, was held in February 2010. The speakers included, from left to right, Richard Crooks (University of Texas at Austin), Héctor Abruña (Cornell University), Juan Felíu (Universidad de Alicante), Charles Martin (University of Florida), William Geiger (The University of Vermont), Ernö Pretsch, ETH Zürich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), Jean-Michel Savéant (Université Paris Diderot), Andrew Bocarsly (Princeton University), William Heineman (University of Cincinnati), Hubert Girault (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne), and Serge Lemay (Delft University of Technology).

04/19/2010 - 01:00

Monday, April 19th, 2010
9:15 am — 12:30 pm

ACES AVAYA Auditorium (ACE 2.302)

Presented by
The Center for Nano- and Molecular Science’s Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC)

9:15 – 9:45 a.m.
John Goodenough, UT-Austin, EFRC:CST Thrust III Faculty
Energy Storage in Lithium-Ion Batteries

9:45 – 10:45 a.m.
Linda Nazar, University of Waterloo, Canada
Material Solutions for Energy Storage

10:45 – 11:00 a.m.
Coffee and muffin break

11:00 – 11:30 a.m.
Graeme Henkelman, UT-Austin, EFRC:CST Thrust III Faculty
Calculations of Li Diffusion Kinetics in Oxides

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Anton Van der Ven, University of Michigan
Atomic-Scale Diffusion Mechanisms and the Role of Coherency Strains
during Two-Phase Reactions in Li-Intercalation Compounds

03/16/2010 - 10:15

CEC faculty member Jeremy Meyers will present at the American Physical Society short course "Polymers for Energy Generation and Storage" on March 13–14, 2010 in Portland, Oregon.

Polymers can be used for active layers in cheaper, lighter energy storage and generation devices. Researchers are seeking an ability to control of morphology at the nanometer scale and a deeper understanding of transport processes in these materials, and there has been intense research into the solid state physics and electrochemistry of devices that use polymer materials for energy conversion or energy storage.

The short course provides a background in the basic device physics of both organic photovoltaics and batteries. The target audience is primarily graduate students, postdocs, and young scientists with some knowledge of polymer physics. The forum provides a basic foundation of knowledge as well as a deeper discussion of outstanding problems and avenues of research in energy relevant polymers. Each half of the course begins by covering the basic underlying physics of energy storage and generation devices, and transport of charged species. Then our current understanding of the thermodynamics, morphology, self-assembly, and mechanisms of charge transport within these systems is outlined, with significant time reserved for discussion of gaps in current understanding and promising areas for future research. The schedule is designed to allow plenty of time for discussion and interaction.

Program topics include:

Energy Generation - Photovoltaics

  • Basic PV Operation & Basic Intro to Optical Excitations- Jenny Nelson, Imperial College
  • Basic Electrical Transport - Gary Rumbles, NREL
  • Basic PV structures -  Mike Chabinyc, UCSB
  • Polymer Physics - Rachel Segalman, UC Berkeley

Energy Storage - Batteries

  • Basic Battery Operation- Paul Albertus, Bosch
  • Basic Electrochemistry - Jeremy Meyers, University of Texas at Austin
  • Polymer Electrodes - Hiroyuki Nishide, Waseda University
  • Polymer Electrolytes - Nitash Balsara, UC Berkeley