The central theme of Prof. Smotkin’s group is the discovery of better materials for clean energy sources and processes. This includes the development of catalysts and supports for electrochemical reactors for synthesis, power generation and environmental remediation. This multidisciplinary effort includes development of synthetic methods, spectroscopic analysis and computational modeling of nanostructured materials. High throughput analytical instrumentation is developed for comparative and fundamental studies of catalyst libraries. Towards these ends, Laser Activated Membrane Introduction Mass Spectrometry (LAMIMS) has been developed for high throughput fundamental studies of heterogeneous catalysts and Array Electrochemical Reactors have been developed for evaluation of electrocatalysts.
We also continue to develop potential dependent Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, X-ray absorption spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction methods to probe the buried catalyst interfaces of operating electrochemical reactors. A relatively new field developed in the Smotkin group is the study of non-Faradaic processes occurring at electrode surfaces. These processes include acid catalyzed organic transformations at electrode surfaces that do not involve electron transfer from the electrode to the reactant. Solvent free reactors such as polymer electrolyte membrane electrochemical reactors are used for power generation and for development of new organic transformations at electrode surfaces.
NuVant.com (Company website) NuVant Systems is a spin-off company based, in part, on developments in the Smotkin academic laboratory. Many of the Smotkin graduate and undergraduate researchers transition to NuVant as staff scientists and engineers. NuVant has provided consistent co-op experience for chemists, engineers and mathematicians since 2006, and corporate funding for academic research. All graduate students develop an entrepreneurial spirit during their research experience and graduate with product development and commercialization experience. NuVant is located in Crown Point, IN; Boston, MA; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.