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Royal Society of Chemistry Journal Names ChemE’s John Keith One of Materials Chemistry’s “Rising Stars”

John KeithPITTSBURGH, PA (June 8, 2017) … The Journal of Materials Chemistry A, published by the Royal Society of Chemistry, included University of Pittsburgh researcher John Keith in its list of Emerging Investigators in 2017. The journal’s themed issue highlighted “rising stars” of materials chemistry research recommended by experts in the field.

Dr. Keith, assistant professor and the inaugural Richard King Mellon Faculty Fellow in Energy in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, was included in the journal for his work on “Computational investigation of CO2 electroreduction on tin oxide and predictions of Ti, V, Nb and Zr dopants for improved catalysis” (DOI: 10.1039/C7TA00405B).

The paper outlines the work of Dr. Keith and his team on improving the performance of tin electrocatalysts for CO2 reduction. By using computational quantum chemistry modeling, the researchers studied reaction mechanisms on partially-reduced tin oxide surfaces and which elemental dopant additives can be added to make the CO2 conversion more energy efficient.

“Some of the dopants we modeled were already known to improve CO2 conversion energy efficiencies, and since our models could predict those cases we’re confident the other dopants we predicted as improving efficiencies are very promising for future work,” said Dr. Keith. “Our work demonstrates how we can modify tin-based oxide materials to make them better at converting CO2 into useful chemicals and fuels.”

As Principal Investigator and Founder of the Keith Lab in Computational Chemistry at Pitt, Dr. Keith studies atomic scale reaction mechanisms to understand how to design better catalysts whether the goal is a commodity chemical made from CO2 or an anticorrosion coating for the US Navy.

Joining Dr. Keith on the study were PhD students Karthikeyan Saravanan and Yasemin Basdogan as well as James Dean, a former undergraduate researcher that was supported by Pitt’s NSF-sponsored Particle-based Functional Materials Research Experience for Undergraduates program.

About Dr. Keith
John Keith is a tenure-track assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Energy and affiliated with Pitt’s Center for Energy as its R. K. Mellon Faculty Fellow in Energy. After obtaining his PhD from Caltech, he was an Alexander von Humboldt postdoctoral fellow at the University of Ulm and then an Associate Research Scholar at Princeton University. He began his appointment at Pitt in September 2013. His group uses first-principles based computational chemistry modeling to study chemical reaction mechanisms and design materials and catalysts for energy storage and conversion. Current research activities focus on atomic scale mechanisms for CO2 conversion, computer-aided design of molecular chelants, and tuning oxide materials for catalysis via doping. In 2017, Dr. Keith received a prestigious CAREER award from the National Science Foundation.

About Journal of Materials Chemistry A
The Journal of Materials Chemistry A publishes research related to “high impact applications, properties, and synthesis of exciting new materials for energy and sustainability.” The journal has an impact factor of 8.262, and there are 48 issues per year in addition to its themed collections. The Royal Society of Chemistry has more than 54,000 members internationally and publishes 43 peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Materials Chemistry A and its two sister publications: Journal of Materials Chemistry B and Journal of Materials Chemistry C.


Author: Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

Contact: Paul Kovach