News & Upcoming Events

12/11/2009 - 19:00

“Nanomaterials, Nanotechnologies and Design” has recently been released. The book is written by a world-renowned team, namely Professor Michael Ashby (University of Cambridge, UK), Professor Daniel Schodek (Harvard University, USA) and CEC faculty member Professor Paulo Ferreira (University of Texas at Austin, USA).

The book starts with an interesting scenario: “Imagine dissociating a human body into its most fundamental building blocks. We would collect a considerable portion of gases, namely hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, sizable amounts of carbon and calcium; small fractions of several metals such as iron, magnesium, and zinc; and tiny levels of many other chemical elements. The total cost of these materials would be less than the cost of a good pair of shoes. Are we humans worth so little? Obviously not, mainly because it is the arrangement of these elements and the way they are assembled that allow human beings to eat, talk, thank, and reproduce. In this context, we could ask ourselves: What if we could follow nature and build whatever we want, atom by atom and/or molecule by molecule.”

The authors then discuss the presence of nanomaterials and nanostructures in nature. Some interesting examples are the photosynthesis carried out by every green plant, the shells made by abalones, the strong byssus capable of anchoring mussels to a surface, and the base of geckos feet and spider webs. The authors make the point that nature is undoubtedly the most experienced and most tested laboratory ever available to us and interestingly enough, most of what nature does takes place at the nanoscale. Similarly intriguing, the authors discuss the existence of nanomaterials and nanoscale properties in human-made objects, as old as 324 AD. Although there were no scientific understanding of the nanoscale phenomena, Roman glassware, Medieval and Renaissance ceramics, murals and poetry of the ancient conservation and restoration of works of art and other forms of cultural heritage by nano-based techniques.

"Nanomaterials, Nanotechnologies and Design," the book Paulo Ferreira co-authored.

The book continues with a discussion on the use of nanomaterials and nanotechnologies in design. Because nanomaterials have intrinsically novel properties it is possible to reinvent how some products are designed, from chairs to bicycles to buildings. The following chapters discuss in great detail the general properties of materials and nanomaterials, as well as the techniques available to process these materials and characterize them. An interesting example is the carbon nanotubes, which despite their nanoscale size exhibit tensile strengths 30 times higher than steel and ballistic electrical conductivities.

The discussion then turns into how nanomaterials and nanotechnologies can play a role in various environments, such as structural and mechanical, thermal, electrical and magnetic, light and optical, sound and acoustic, as well as alternative energies. The last chapters of the book concentrate on application of nanomaterials, such as self-cleaning glasses, tiles, paints and textiles, antipollutant concrete, antomicrobial furniture and clothing, self-healing materials and materials that change color and shape.

When asked about the book, Prof. Ferreira said “One of the most interesting aspects of this work was the fact that the authors had such a different background. This allowed us to cover a wide range of topics, learn different perspectives, and converge on a language which would be accessible to a broad audience. This is definitely one of the strengths of the book.”

The book is now available in bookstores and also on-line at

10/08/2009 - 06:00

Chemical Physics Letter, 480, 4-6, 8 October 2009Research research by Chong-yang Liu and Allen Bard has been featured on the cover of Chemical Physics Letters. Their paper, entitled "Electrons on dielectrics and contact electrification," is available online today at Chemical Physics Letters, 480, 4-6, 8 October 2009, pp. 145-156. Their chemical approach suggests that electron transfer occurs in contact electrification, and allows determination of the surface density of electronic charge as well as processes involved in charging and discharging the dielectrics.


09/17/2009 - 18:00

John Goodenough, CEC faculty member and engineering professor at the University of Texas at Austin, has been awarded the Enrico Fermi Award, one of the most distinguished science and technology honors given by the White House. Goodenough will share the presidential honor with Stanford University's Siegfried S. Hecker. Each will recieve a gold medal and will be honored at a White House ceremony.

09/15/2009 - 19:00

CEC researchers have received about $2.5 million to identify new materials that will efficiently absorb sunlight and split water into clean hydrogen fuel, which could power cars and be used to generate electricity.

For the next three years, chemical engineering Professor Charles Mullins, chemistry Professor Allen Bard and mathematics Professor Irene M. Gamba will collaborate on the endeavor, which encompasses two grants from the National Science Foundation ($1.4 million) and the U.S. Department of Energy (about $1.1 million).

"Sustainable energy ultimately will involve the conversion of solar energy economically and efficiently to chemical fuels and electricity.” Bard said. “Our work focuses on discovering new materials for this and obtaining a better understanding of how their composition and structure govern their behavior.”

Mullins added, “The grants will fund us to explore finding new materials that will efficiently absorb sunlight and drive chemical reactions to break water into hydrogen (a fuel) and oxygen. These materials also need to be cheap and composed of elements that are abundant.”

The researchers will be examining novel metal oxides (variations of more common ones like titanium dioxide and iron oxide), which can act as semiconductors.

Mullins said because sunlight and water are relatively inexpensive and plentiful starting points, the hydrogen fuel produced by an efficient process would also be cheap.

“Plus, it would be a sustainable form of energy,” he said. “And energy, of course, is a terribly important problem that we are currently facing.”

Mullins said that researchers have studied water splitting using photoelectrochemistry for the past 40 years and progress has been made. However, efficient, cheap and abundant materials have yet to be discovered to make solar water splitting a viable process.

He said Bard will use a “combinatorial” approach for rapidly making complex compositions of metal oxides and testing them for their promise as photoelectrocatalysts, the material that facilitates the split.

“Once promising materials have been identified, we’ll research how to create nano-scale structures of that material that enhance the intrinsic properties of the material for light-absorption and water-splitting chemistry,” Mullins said.

Gamba’s past work in the mathematical treatment of electron and hole transport in semiconductors makes her essential to establishing useful theoretical models for these systems. 

Mullins holds the Z.D. Bonner Professorship in Chemical Engineering, Bard holds the Hackerman-Welch Chair in Chemistry, and Gamba holds the Joe B. and Louise Cook Professorship in Mathematics.


04/17/2009 - 19:00

Professor and Chemistry and Biochemistry Department Chairman Richard Crooks is the 2010 recipient of the Charles N. Reilley Award in Electroanalytical Chemistry. The C. N. Reilley Award is given in memory of one of the most distigushed analytical chemists of the 20th century. Reilley's interests were both fundamental and broad. He made seminal contributions not only to electroanalysis, but also optical spectroscopy, NMR, chromatography, data analysis, instrumentation, and surface analysis. The signature of his research was to decline empiricism, seeking a basic understanding of measurements and detection schemes. Reilley recognized that measuring things is at the heart of modern chemistry. Reilley is central in the history of the Society for Electroanalytical Chemistry, which was formed following his death in 1981, as a vehicle for managing the award. The Award is supported by Bioanalytical Systems, Inc.

Professor Crooks' research focuses in electrochemistry, nanomaterials, catalysis, chemical and biological sensing, and microanalytical systems. The research is presently focused in three main areas: (1) synthesis and characterization of very well-defined mono- and multimetallic catalysts in the 1 - 2 nm size range, (2) design and fabrication of a new family of array-based electrochemical microsensors, and (3) development of a novel means for replicating DNA and RNA microarrays. His group recently developed an approach for synthesizing very well-defined mono- and multimetallic catalysts using dendrimer templates. The process leads to stable, nearly size-monodisperse, catalytically active nanoparticles composed of Pt, Pd, Au, Ag, Ni, Fe, or Cu. It is also possible to prepare alloy and core/shell bimetallic DENs using a slight variation of this basic approach.

Professor Crooks also continues to work on the development of microsensors based on massively parallel arrays of electrodes that can be interrogated simultaneously. A single potential source is required to control all the electrodes in the array, and the output is measured in parallel using electrogenerated chemiluminescence (ECL). His group is also working on parallel replication of DNA and RNA arrays, with an eye toward current emphases on personalized medicine, and he has reported fabrication of RNA replica arrays from DNA masters.

Learn more about research in the Crooks Group.

Learn more about the Charles N. Reilley Award and the Society for Electroanalytical Chemistry.

03/27/2009 - 07:00

Allen J. Bard at 2009 Congressional briefinThe American Chemical Society Science & the Congress Project, together with Representative Rush Holt and Representative Vernon Ehlers hosted a luncheon briefing at U.S. Capitol entitled "Understanding the U.S. Energy Profile." This briefing explored how energy is currently used by different sectors of the economy, what resources we have available, and what challenges we face for the future.

Speakers included moderator Alan Crane, Senior Program Officer, National Research Council and panelists Robert Fri (Resources for the Future), Howard Gruenspecht (Energy Information Administration), Scott Tinker (State Geologist of Texas), and the Center for Electrochemistry's Allen Bard.

The ACS Science & the Congress Project organizes and makes presentations to to Members of the Congress and their staffs, and the broader community of science policy makers, to promote a deeper understanding of the science involved in many public policy issues. Since 1995, the project has provided an independent and credible source of scientific information for Congress. Experts are selected to present balanced discussions, and their comments are not dependent upon any position that may be held by the ACS, the sponsors of Science & the Congress, or its co-hosts.

01/23/2008 - 19:00

Dr. Allen Bard, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at The University of Texas at Austin, was awarded the 2008 Wolf Prize in Chemistry jointly with Professor William Moerner of Stanford University. The award, announced by Israel's minister of education, Professor Yuli Tamir, was given to the two scientists for their "creation of a new field of science," single-molecule spectroscopy and imaging.

04/16/2004 - 07:00

Professor Allen J. Bard has received the William H. Nichols Medal Award in White Plains, NY from the New York Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS). The Medal was presented at an Award Dinner following the Nichols Distinguished Symposium. Professor Bard was honored “For the Invention and Development of the Scanning Electrochemical Microscope (SECM) which has Allowed High Resolution Chemical Imaging of Surfaces and Reactions on the Nanometer Scale.”

Professor Allen J. Bard was born in New York City and attended public schools there, including the Bronx High School of Science. He attended The City College of New York (B.S., 1955) and Harvard University (M.A.1956, Ph.D. 1958), working with James J. Lingane. He joined the faculty at The University of Texas at Austin (UT) in 1958. Essentially all of Dr. Bard’s research has been carried out at UT-Austin, where he has held the Hackerman-Welch Regents Chair in Chemistry since 1985. The vast majority of his research has been done in collaboration with the numerous graduate students and postdoctoral associates that have worked in his laboratories during his many years at the University of Texas. At UT-Austin he has mentored and collaborated with 73 Ph.D. students, 16 M.S. students, over 130 postdoctoral associates, and numerous visiting scientists. He has always helped his junior colleagues to attain their maximum level of achievement both in his laboratories and afterwards, a large number of whom have gone on to develop independent research careers.

Known for the broad scope of his research, Professor Bard – who co-discovered the phenomenon of electrogenerated chemiluminescence (ECL) in the late sixties – developed ECL into a highly sensitive and selective technique for biological applications, such as immunoassay. This technology has been commercialized by IGEN and others, and is widely used in clinical laboratories. Additionally, while developing much of the theoretical understanding of the electrochemistry involved in photoelectrochemistry, he has demonstrated that the semiconductors need not be highly pure, single-crystal materials.

Professor Bard has collaborated often with faculty colleagues in the UT chemistry department and elsewhere. He spent a sabbatical in the CNRS lab of Jean-Michel Savéant in Paris in 1973, where he obtained a deeper understanding of the use of cyclic voltammetry for elucidating reaction mechanisms. It was in Paris that he started work on semiconductor photoelectrochemistry, a research area that his group has contributed to for the past 25 years. He also spent a semester in 1977 at the California Institute of Technology, where he was a Sherman Fairchild Scholar, working with Fred Anson on the electrochemistry of polymers.

Professor Bard has received numerous well-deserved honors and awards, including election to the National Academy of Sciences in 1982. A small sample of awards include the Carl Wagner Memorial Award (The Electrochemical Society), the Fisher Award in Analytical Chemistry (American Chemical Society), the Charles N. Reilley Award (Society of Electroanalytical Chemistry), Docteur Honoris Causa (Universite de Paris-VII), the New York Academy of Sciences Award in Mathematics and Physical Sciences, the Willard Gibbs Award (American Chemical Society, Chicago Section), the EAS Award in Electrochemistry, the Olin-Palladium Medal (Electrochemical Society), the Analytical Chemistry Award in Electrochemistry (American Chemical Society), the Luigi Galvani Medal (Societá Chimica Italiana), the Priestley Medal (American Chemical Society), the Pauling Award (American Chemical Society, Puget Sound and Portland Sections), the National Academy of Sciences Award in Chemical Sciences and the Pittsburgh Analytical Chemistry Award. He was named the Woodward Professorship at Harvard University and the Sherman Mills Fairchild Scholar at California Institute of Technology. He has given over seventy-five named lectureships at universities and colleges throughout the United States and overseas.

Dr. Bard has published over 700 peer-reviewed research papers and 75 book chapters and other publications, and has received over 23 patents. He has authored three books, Chemical Equilibrium (1966), Electrochemical Methods—Fundamentals and Applications (1980, 2nd Ed., 2001, with L. R. Faulkner), and Integrated Chemical Systems: A Chemical Approach to Nanotechnology (1994). He has edited the series, Electroanalytical Chemistry, founded in 1964 (22 volumes to date), the Encyclopedia of the Electrochemistry of Elements (Vols. I – XIII, 1973 – 89) and Standard Reduction Potentials in Aqueous Solutions (with Roger Parsons and Joseph Jordan) (1985). He recently co-edited, with Professor Martin Stratmann, the Encyclopedia of Electrochemistry. He also served for two decades as Editor-in-Chief of the prestigious Journal of the American Chemical Society.