News


Karl Johnson and his team discovered a new material that remove carbon dioxide from the air and convert it into useful chemicals

  • By Ke Xu
  • 12 October 2018

Karl Johnson and his team worked with a class of nanomaterials called metal-organic frameworks or “MOFs,” which can be used to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and combine it with hydrogen atoms to convert it into valuable chemicals and fuels.

Their findings were published in the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) journal Catalysis Science & Technology. The journal featured their work on its cover, illustrating the process of carbon dioxide and hydrogen molecules entering the MOF and exiting as CH2O2 or formic acid—a chemical precursor to methanol. 


John Keith and collaborators discovered a liquid polymer capable of freezing water at room temperature

  • By Ke Xu
  • 9 October 2018

John Keith and collaborators discovered the unique behavior of a liquid polymer capable of freezing water at room temperature. When a particular polymer—known as polyoxacyclobutane (POCB)— is mixed with water, it raises the mixture’s freezing point from 32 degrees Fahrenheit to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Keith and colleagues used computer modeling to find a stable hydrate structure where water molecules thread themselves throughout the polymer to form hydrogen bonds that hold the material together like tiny zippers. Their findings are published in the American Chemical Society (ACS) journal Macromolecules.


Kenneth Jordan will be honored at the Spring 2019 ACS Meeting with a two-day symposium

  • By Ke Xu
  • 2 October 2018

Kenneth Jordan will be honored for his contributions to Computational and Theoretical Chemistry in a two-day symposium titled "Electron-Molecule & Molecule-Molecule Interactions". The symposium is co-sponsored by the COMP and PHYS divisions of ACS and will be held during the Spring 2019 ACS meeting in Orlando, FL. The symposium will be for two full days from March 31 to April 1, 2019.


Zachary Ulissi developed a machine learning system to discover new materials for electrocatalysis

  • By Ke Xu
  • 18 September 2018

Zachary Ulissi and his team developed a machine learning system to search through millions of intermetallics to discover new materials for electrocatalysis.

Typically, catalysts are discovered through trial and error coupled with chemical intuition. Now, an automatic machine-learning framework has been developed that can guide itself to fnd intermetallic surfaces with desired catalytic properties.

Through their study, published in Nature Catalysis, they have a list of materials and intermetallic combinations that experimentalists should try, both for hydrogen evolution and carbon dioxide reduction. The experiments will then determine what will make good electrocatalysts for the large scale.


Hrvoje Petek won the 2019 Ahmed Zewail Award in American Chemical Society

  • By Ke Xu
  • 18 September 2018

Hrvoje Petek has won the 2019 Ahmed Zewail Award in Ultrafast Science and Technology of the American Chemical Society.

The award, which has been given yearly since 2005, recognizes outstanding and creative contributions to fundamental discoveries or inventions in ultrafast science  and technology in areas of physics, chemistry, biology, or related fields.


Single-shot condensation of exciton polaritons and the hole burning effect

  • By Leena Aggarwal
  • 10 September 2018

The single-shot measurements offer a unique opportunity to study fundamental properties of non-equilibrium condensation in the presence of a reservoir. David Snoke and his colleagues have recently reported an insight into spontaneous condensation by imaging long-lifetime exciton polaritons in a high-quality inorganic microcavity in a single-shot optical excitation regime, without averaging over multiple condensate realisations. The results are published in the Journal of Nature Communications. They have demonstrated that how condensation is strongly influenced by an incoherent reservoir and that the reservoir depletion, the so-called spatial hole burning, is critical for the transition to the ground state.


Giannis Mpourmpakis Part of $800K DOE Study Targeting Safer Storage for Nuclear Waste

  • By Ke Xu
  • 4 September 2018

Giannis Mpourmpakis is part of a collaborative research team studying the corrosion behavior of glass containers often used to store nuclear waste. Its goal is to find solutions to reduce or avoid the degeneration of the containers. The U.S. Department of Energy awarded $800,000 to the project, titled “Formation of Zeolites Responsible for Waste Glass Rate Acceleration: An Experimental and Computational Study for Understanding Thermodynamic and Kinetic Processes.” 


Karl Johnson and John Keith unlocked the secrets of Polyisobutylene’s reaction mechanism

  • By Ke Xu
  • 28 August 2018

Karl Johnson and John Keith lead a collaboration between the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering and Wickliffe, Ohio-based Lubrizol Corporation to unlock the secrets of Polyisobutylene (PIB)’s reaction mechanism.

PIB is a workhorse polymer that is found in a multitude of products, ranging from chewing gum, to tires, to engine oil and gasoline additives. Although commercially produced in large quantities since the 1940s, PIB chemistry was a mystery – scientists weren’t sure how the reaction mechanism that creates the polymer happens at the molecular level, which limited further potential. 

Utilizing the University’s Center for Research Computing to analyze the molecular processes, the Pitt/Lubrizol group found that the assumed reaction mechanism was not correct and that initiation of the reaction requires a “superacid” catalyst. 

The group’s findings were published this month in the journal ACS Catalysis.


David Waldeck selected as the winner of the Bioelectrochemistry Prize of the International Society of Electrochemistry

  • By Ke Xu
  • 21 August 2018

David Waldeck has been selected as the winner of the Bioelectrochemistry Prize of the International Society of Electrochemistry, in recognition of his fundamental work on charge transport phenomena associated with biomolecules, electron transport through proteins and nucleic acids, and electron transfer at biomolecule/electrode interfaces. The Society will present the Bioelectrochemistry Prize publicly at the 2019 Annual Meeting in Durban, South Africa.

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