Skip to main content


Northwestern Chemistry faculty push the frontiers of environmental and energy science. Interests range from energy transduction to water purification to catalysis to energy storage and transport. Major programs include molecular-level research on sustainability in energy pathways, the search for understanding and controlling pollutant transport, anticipating emerging physical and chemical processes under future – possibly warmer – climates, and impacts of emerging nanotechnologies on the energy sector and the environment. Hard- and soft-matter materials and interfaces are subject to the elucidation of molecular processes in real time and space with the most cutting-edge tools available for electronic, structural, and functional interrogation, as well as the design, realization, and implementation of new instrumentation such as heretofore unknown approaches to spectrometry and microscopy. Computer simulations of electronic and molecular structure go hand in hand with experiments to understand, control, and predict reactivity and function, and to guide new ways of thinking about the new phenomena uncovered in the arena of environmental and energy science.

Environmental/Energy Research Areas:

Inorganic Organic MaterialsInorganic-Organic Materials

Porous materials • solar energy • catalysis • magnetism • chemical sensors • alternative energy appliances • gas storage and separation • theory collaborations • molecular sieving membranes

Farha, Gianneschi, Hupp, Marks, Mirkin, NguyenPoeppelmeier, Sargent


Diagnostics • therapeutics • photovoltaics • catalysis • patterning • electronic structure • synthesis • magnetic separation • magnetic resonance imaging • synthetically programmable lattices

Dichtel, Farha, Gianneschi, Hunter, KanatzidisMarks, Meade, MirkinOdom, Sargent

Organometallic & Coordination ComplexesOrganometallic & Coordination Complexes

Catalysis • synthesis • electronic structure • reactivity • molecular magnetism • dye sensitized solar cells • main group electronic structure • transition metal inhibitors • quantum computation

Hunter, Malapit, Marks, Meade, Mirkin, Nguyen, Swearer

ochem-image-3.jpgPhysical Organic Chemistry

Electron donor–acceptor systems • photochemistry • molecular electronics • surface chemistry of graphene and polymer nanocomposites • self-assembled monolayers • mass spectrometry

Dichtel, Kalow, Malapit, Nguyen, Wasielewski


Atomic layer deposition (ALD) for the synthesis of complex oxide films • applications of Raman spectroscopy to map catalytic reactions on surfaces with high time resolution, photoreduction of CO2 using heterogeneous catalysis • nanoparticle and molecular catalysts   •  applications of vibrational sum frequency generation (SFG) to model heterogeneous catalysts

Geiger, HunterHupp, MalapitPoeppelmeier, RosenzweigSargent, Swearer, 

energy scienceEnergy Science

Field effect transistors, organic photovoltaics, artificial photosynthesis, molecular electronics, energy storage, and the sustainable generation of fuels and chemical feedstocks

Chen, Dichtel, Farha, Geiger, HunterHupp, Kalow, Malapit, Olvera de la Cruz, PoeppelmeierRosenzweigSargentSchatz, SeidemanSwearer, Szleifer, Tempelaar, Wasielewski

environmental chemistry

Environmental Chemistry

Molecular-level research on sustainability in energy pathways, understanding and controlling pollutant transport, atmospheric chemistry under future – possibly warmer – climates, and impacts of emerging nanotechnologies on the environment

Chen, Dichtel, Farha, Geiger, HuppRosenzweigSwearer, Wasielewski