From its LEED Platinum Chemistry Research building to its award-winning research, the Chemistry Department is actively engaged in sustainability education and research. Highlights include new battery technology, chemically recyclable polymers, energy and material-saving catalysis including earth-abundant catalysts, and work on a range of renewable energy sources.

Environmental chemistry is a passion. Work focuses on quantitative measurements of air and water quality and atmospheric processes, low-cost sensors, biomaterials that promote human health, as well as determining failure mechanisms in photovoltaic and photocatalytic materials.

Experimental efforts are supported by computational work centered on helping understand the complex processes at the center of challenges ranging from energy and material-saving polymer and pharmaceutical syntheses to environmental remediation and climate change.

Developing sustainable approaches to chemicals, monomers, and materials that our society depends on

Eugene Chen, John K. Stille Endowed Chair in Chemistry and Millennial Professor of Polymer Science and Sustainability, directs the Center for Sustainable Monomers and Polymers (CSuMAP) since 2012. The overarching goal of CSuMAP is to be a focal point for research and education in developing sustainable approaches to chemicals, monomers, and materials that our society depends on. His group has invented 6 patented and 2 patent-pending intrinsically recyclable plastics with infinite chemical recyclability and tunable properties or performances, as well as biomass conversion platforms to convert nonedible plant biomass into renewable chemicals, building block monomers, and bioplastics. He has co-founded a start-up company aiming to bring the infinitely recyclable plastic technology into the marketplace to gradually replace today’s non-recyclable plastics that are accelerating depletion of natural resources and polluting our environment. His group’s sustainability-related work has been recognized by the Excellence in Commercialization Award in 2012 by the Colorado Cleantech Industry Association and the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award in 2015 by the US Environmental Protection Agency. Most recently, he has given live broadcast lectures and perspectives on sustainability topics at the National Academy of Sciences Workshop in 2019 and the National Science Foundation/American Chemical Society Colloquium in 2019.

Developing 3D rechargeable batteries made by scalable, water based electroplating methods

The Prieto group is interested in developing synthetic methods for making solid state materials with applications in energy production and storage, with a particular emphasis on using earth abundant materials and developing environmentally safe and sustainable manufacturing methods. Amy Prieto was named a Scialog Fellow by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement for her work developing syntheses for nanoparticles composed of earth abundant elements for applications in photovoltaics, and was named a Monfort Professor for her work on developing nanoparticles of magnesium for hydrogen storage.  Prof. Prieto is also interested in developing 3D rechargeable batteries that combine high power and energy densities, are safe, and are made by a scalable, water based electroplating methods.  She founded Prieto Battery Inc. in 2009 to commercialize that battery technology.  She was named the 2011 ExxonMobil Solid State Chemistry Faculty Fellow, an honor awarded to one scientist nationally and was also honored by President Barack Obama at the White House with a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.  She currently has 26 patents issued in the US, the EU, China, Japan, Korea and India, and her batteries are currently on display at the Smithsonian Institute.

Creating sustainable synthesis of complex molecules relevant to high-value chemicals and pharmaceuticals

The Rappe group has studied sustainability questions since the 1980’s at CSU. In the 1980’s, efforts were focused on methane activation, nitrogen activation, and deNOx catalysis. The 90’s saw a shift to polymer catalysis including work on a recyclable disposable diaper. The 2000’s saw a shift toward earth abundant photocatalysis. Each of these phases involved close collaboration with experimental colleagues. In recent years our work has been supported by the Catalysis Collaboratory for Light-activated Earth Abundant Reagents (C-CLEAR), an NSF-EPA supported group that aims to replace expensive and/or toxic 1-electron reagents with catalytic processes, toward sustainable synthesis of complex molecules relevant to high-value chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

Developing methods for employing Earth-abundant reagents in photocatalysis schemes

The Shores group collaborates extensively with computational and synthetic chemists to develop methods for employing Earth-abundant reagents in photocatalysis schemes. We seek detailed knowledge of the physical and chemical properties of Earth-abundant compounds, and accurate descriptions and synthetic control of electronic structure in ground and (photo)excited states. Our work has been supported by the Catalysis Collaboratory for Light-activated Earth Abundant Reagents (C-CLEAR), an NSF-EPA supported group that aims to replace expensive and/or toxic 1-electron reagents with catalytic processes, toward sustainable synthesis of complex molecules relevant to high-value chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

Developing fundamental science that will lead to next generation renewable energy production systems

The Sambur group focuses on developing the fundamental science that will lead to next generation renewable energy production systems. The Sambur group is working to understand the mechanism of pseudocapacitance and leverage structure/composition/property relationships to design pseudocapacitor hosts. In their 2019 PNAS paper, they pioneered the development of single nanoparticle electro-optical imaging to understand the charge storage mechanism in pseudocapacitive WO3 nanorods. The group is also working to establish a new paradigm in the ultrathin 2D materials field: liquid electrolytes conformally coat and efficiently extract charge carriers from 2D materials (Nano Letters, 2019; J. Phys. Chem. C. 2018). They have “healed” chalcogen vacancies in MoSe2 using focused laser beams, thereby significantly improving the photocurrent (ACS Appl. Mater. 2019). The group’s immediate research plans are to investigate hot carrier photochemistry processes such as carrier multiplication in 2D materials, which has the potential to double the photocurrent efficiency in a solar cell.

Converting solar energy via water-oxidation catalysis to form hydrogen fuels

Sustainability related research in the group of Professor Richard Finke takes shape in several forms: (i) catalysis, the most fundamental topic underlying sustainable chemistry, including kinetics and mechanisms of catalytic processes; (ii) solar energy conversion via water-oxidation catalysis to form hydrogen fuels; and (iii) capture of the oxidized intermediates in water-oxidation catalysis for use in oxygenating organic substrates in a more sustainable, energy efficient fashion.

Designing new battery materials and molecules using artificial intelligence

In collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Colorado School of Mines (CSM), the Paton group is supported by an ARPA-E grant to design new battery materials and molecules using artificial intelligence. They are developing machine learning approaches to predict the performance of new material compositions at high fidelity but lower cost, and using reinforcement learning techniques to automate the identification of new candidate compositions.

Faculty Highlights

Chen group receives Excellence in Commercialization Award (2012) by the Colorado Cleantech Industry Association and the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award (2015) by the US Environmental Protection Agency

Sambur group pioneers development of single nanoparticle electro-optical imaging in 2019 PNAS paper

Professor Prieto named Scialog Fellow by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement for her work developing syntheses for nanoparticles composed of earth abundant elements for applications in photovoltaics and named Monfort Professor for her work on developing nanoparticles of magnesium for hydrogen storage

Professor Chen named Millennial Professor of Polymer Science and Sustainability

Sustainability Faculty

Chris Ackerson / Associate Professor
Phone: (970) 491-0521

Nanoparticle structure, nanoparticle chemistry, novel nanoparticle synthesis strategies, applications of nanoparticles to biological imaging.

Travis Bailey / Associate Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering
Phone: (970) 491-4648
Office: Scott Bioengineering Building 322

His research interests at Colorado State will focus on the thermodynamics of nanoscale self-assembly processes in block copolymer composite materials and their applications in a variety of environments, including polymer-based photovoltaics, bio-enzymatic fuel cells, chemical and biological sensing devices, targeted chemical delivery, and hydrogel-based shape memory materials.

Jeff Bandar / Assistant Professor
Phone: (970) 495-2432
Office: Chemistry Research 315

The design and study of new catalysts and catalytic processes with applications for pharmaceutical, natural product and industrial chemical synthesis.

Thomas Borch / Professor, Soil and Crop Sciences
Phone: (970) 491-6235
Office: C019

My research is directed at determining reactions influencing the fate of trace elements and organic contaminants in soils.

Eugene Chen / University Distinguished Professor, John K. Stille Endowed Chair in Chemistry
Phone: (970) 491-5609
Office: Chemistry 000

Intrinsically recyclable polymers; renewable monomers and sustainable polymers; precision (stereoselective, chemoselective & living) polymer synthesis; Lewis pair polymerization; new polymerization methodology; transition-metal, main-group & organic catalysis; biomass conversion to fuels, chemicals & materials.

Delphine Farmer / Associate Professor
Phone: (970) 491-0624

Indoor and outdoor atmospheric chemistry; Instrument development & high resolution mass spectrometry; Field and laboratory measurements of reactive trace gases and particles and their interactions with the biosphere

Richard Finke / Professor
Phone: (970) 491-2541
Office: Chemistry C213

Chemical catalysis, nanoparticle research, energy research and kinetics and mechanism

Ellen Fisher / Professor, Assistant Vice President for Strategic Initiatives
Phone: (970) 491-5250
Office: Chemistry C118

Plasma chemistry, reactivity of radicals with surfaces using LIF and molecular beam techniques. Plasma polymerization deposition and etching of materials. Characterization of plasma synthesized thin films.

Chuck Henry / Professor
Phone: (970) 491-2852
Office: Chemistry 00

Bioanalytical chemistry; environmental chemistry; chemical separations; microscale chemical instrumentation; capillary electrophoresis; biosensor development; paper-based analytical devices; microfluidics

Amber Krummel / Associate Professor, Associate Chair
Phone: (970) 491-3694

Structure & dynamics in condensed phase systems; two-dimensional infrared spectroscopy.

Andy McNally / Associate Professor
Phone: (970) 491-6782
Office: 317

Synthetic chemistry, development of new catalytic reactions, transformation of renewable and abundant resources into value-added products, catalytic asymmetric processes.

Carmen Menoni / University Distinguished Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering
Phone: (970) 491-8659
Office: Engineering B104

Prof. Menoni’s research bridges from material to optical sciences. She is engaged in the growth and characterization of high bandgap oxide materials for the engineering of interference coatings for high power lasers. She is also actively involved in using bright coherent beams of light of wavelengths between 10-50 nm for optics applications such as imaging and ablation.

Jamie Neilson / Associate Professor
Phone: (970) 491-2958

New materials and methodologies involving solid-state and solution-phase reactions, particularly those involving kinetic control. We study structure/property relationships of materials (e.g., magnetism, electrical transport) using advanced synchrotron X-ray and time-of-flight neutron scattering and spectroscopic methods.

Amy Prieto / Professor
Phone: (970) 491-1592
Office: CHEMIS

Electrochemical synthesis of inorganic bulk and nanoscale materials, low-temperature solid-state chemistry, nanomaterials.

Anthony Rappe / Professor
Phone: (970) 491-6292
Office: Chemistry C127A

Theoretical characterization of reaction mechanisms in homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis, new electronic structure techniques, development of force fields or model potentials for chemical reactivity studies.

A. R. Ravi Ravishankara / University Distinguished Professor
Phone: (970) 491-2876

Atmospheric chemistry via studies in gas phase kinetics and photochemistry, heterogeneous chemistry, atmospheric field observations, and analyses of modeling results; Furthering understanding of the earth’s atmosphere, diagnosing, understanding of, and providing solutions to environmental issues of the stratospheric ozone depletion, air quality, and climate change; Provide new insights into gas phase chemical reactions, reactions on surfaces and in liquids, and photochemical processes; Developing new experimental methods both for laboratory studies and atmospheric measurements. file:///P:/adellet/Ravi/CV/Ravishankara-CV_Jan_2018.pdf

Justin Sambur / Assistant Professor
Phone: (970) 491-3096

The Sambur group synthesizes nanomaterials and develops imaging techniques to correlate chemical and structural properties with function/performance.

Yian Shi / Professor
Phone: (970) 491-7424
Office: Chemistry C317

Organic and biological chemistry, new synthetic methodology, synthesis of chemically and biologically interesting natural products and study of their molecular mechanisms of action, study of enzymatic reaction mechanisms and development of therapeutic agents.

Matthew Shores / Professor, Department Chair
Phone: (970) 491-7235
Office: Chemistry Chemis

Coordination and organometallic complex synthesis and characterization: environmental control of spin-crossover properties; single-molecule magnets; solar photochemistry employing earth-abundant materials.

Grzegorz Szamel / Professor
Phone: (970) 491-2795
Office: Chemistry C127B

Statistical mechanics, dynamics of colloidal and polymeric fluids, structure and dynamics of colloidal fluids under non-uniform flow conditions.

Alan Van Orden / Professor
Phone: (970) 491-6286
Office: Chemistry C207

Bioanalytical chemistry, single molecule detection and spectroscopy, laser spectroscopy, optical and scanning probe microscopy, optical biosensors for pharmaceutical and clinical chemistry.

MEGAN WILLIS / New Faculty

Atmospheric chemical transformations in gas and particle phases using online mass spectrometry techniques. Understanding the sources and sinks of volatile organic compounds in the surface ocean, emission to the atmosphere and atmospheric fate. Atmospheric aerosol formation and growth, and chemistry-climate interactions. Instrument development to answer fundamental questions in atmospheric chemistry in both field and laboratory experiments.

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