Janik Receives Two NSF Grants for Computational Catalyst Design


Michael Janik, professor of chemical engineering and John J. and Jean M. Brennan Clean Energy Early Career Professor in the College of Engineering, has been awarded two independent research grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) totaling over $478,000.

The first grant, awarded by the NSF Division of Chemistry, supports the research proposal “Collaborative Research: Modifying oxide surfaces with functional atomic-layers for nano-engineered catalysts.” 

The proposal aims to develop both computational and experimental approaches in the study of functional surfaces to ultimately aid in the design and discovery of new nanomaterials.

The research will encompass the work of Janik as well as Adri van Duin, professor of mechanical engineering and chemical engineering at Penn State, and Matthia Batzill, associate professor of physics at the University of South Florida.  

The proposal plans for the three research teams to work collaboratively to design new nanostructured oxide materials, computationally predicting and experimentally demonstrating new properties for potential application as catalysts or sensors.

“The close collaboration between experiment and materials simulation will accelerate discovery for an important class of chemical functional materials,” Janik said.

Janik’s research team will specialize in computational theory, employing his expertise in the area of electronic structure theory (DFT) to reliably screen for potentially stable systems.

The second research grant, awarded by the NSF Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems, will support the proposal “Hydrocarbon conversion on oxysulfide surfaces: towards the design of sulfur-tolerant reforming catalysts.” 

The proposal is a collaborative effort between Janik and Kerry Dooley, BASF Professor of Chemical Engineering at Louisiana State University. It supports the work of two research teams that aim to discover methods and materials for converting methane gas to liquid fuels through the use of sulfate-tolerant catalysts.

Similarly to the Janik/van Duin/Batzill collaboration, this project pairs Janik’s lab specialization in computational theory with the Dooley group’s experimental approach.

Both NSF grants support three-year research terms with all computational data being performed at Penn State’s University Park campus. The projects were initiated in July 2015.


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Mindy Krause


Michael Janik
Michael Janik



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