The Catalysis and Nanomaterials Laboratory, led by Professor Michael S. Wong, is located in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Rice University, Houston, TX. Our research program broadly addresses engineering problems using the tools of materials chemistry. We work in the thematic area of nanotechnology and currently in the application areas of energy (chemicals production from oil/gas and biomass), downhole oil detection and enhanced recovery, photovoltaics, rechargeable batteries) and the environment (water cleanup, green chemistry). We develop and apply materials synthesis techniques to understand better how structure affects the catalytic properties of a nanomaterial.

Our current research activities and interests are (i) structure-property analysis of palladium-on-gold catalysts; (ii) metal-on-metal nanoparticle synthesis; (iii) heterogeneous catalysis for removal of dioxane, nitrate, fluorocarbons, and chlorocarbons from water; (iv) sugar upgrading chemistry, (v) alkane upgrading chemistry; (vi) nanoparticle assembly, and (viii) sulfonated polymers and organic nanoparticles for enhanced oil recovery and downhole detection.



The next Southwest Catalysis Society Symposium will be held at the University of Houston on April 24, 2015. Interested graduate students or postdocs should submit their ca. 200 word abstract before April 15th, 2015 to Lars Grabow ( Poster boards and easels (36" by 48", landscape orientation) will be provided. As in past years, there will be “Best Poster” awards.




The 2015 International Chemical Congress of Pacific Basin Societies, known as Pacifichem 2015, will take place in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, December 15-20, 2015. Pacifichem 2015 has become the largest Pacifichem in its history with 336 Technical Symposia in 11 Topic Areas of chemistry."  This meeting happens every 5 years!

 There will be a special Symposium organized by Prof. Michael Wong, Dr. Conrad Zhang (DICP, China), and Dr. Soon Yong Jeong (KRICT, S. Korea) at Pacifichem 2015.  The topic is "Water-phase Catalysis for Energy and Chemicals Production"(

 Our Symposium will be held in the Hyatt Regency Waikiki, and there will be a poster session (Hawaii Convention Center).  We have 3 sessions, which start on the first 2 days of Pacifichem 2015: Tuesday, December 15 (Morning and Afternoon) and Wednesday, December 16 (Morning).

Invited speakers include Tao Zhang (DICP), Johannes Lercher (Technical University of Munich, PNNL), Robert Davis (UVA), Michael Reynolds (Shell), Eun-dock Park (Ajou U.), Young-Woong Suh (Hanyang U.), Jin-ook Baeg (KRICT), Mark Davis (Caltech), Marcel Schlaf (U. Guelph), Carsten Sievers (Georgia Tech), Lars Grabow (U. Houston), and Daniel Resasco (U. Oklahoma).

We are currently seeking contributed presentations (oral and poster formats).  Abstracts are due by April 3, 2015 (  Contact Michael Wong ( for any questions.


Useful Links

(Southwest Catalysis Society Meetings and Officers Archive)

Representative Publications

107. Z. Zhao, J. Arentz, L. A. Pretzer, P. Limpornpipat, J. M. Clomburg, R. Gonzalez, N. M. Schweitzer, T. Wu, J. T. Miller, M. S. Wong, "Volcano-shape glycerol oxidation activity of palladium-decorated gold nanoparticles" Chemical Science, 5(10), 3715-3728 (2014)DOI: 10.1039/c4sc01001a (Abstract) (open access)(cover article)

102. G. C. Kini, J. Yu, L. Wang, A. T. Kan, S. L. Biswal, J. M. Tour, M. B. Tomson, M. S. Wong, "Salt- and temperature-stable quantum dot nanoparticles for porous media flow" Colloids Surf.A: Physicochem. Eng. Aspects, 443, 492-500 (2014)DOI: 10.1016/j.colsurfa.2013.11.042 (Abstract)

101. H. F. Qian, Z. Zhao, J. C. Velazquez, L. A. Pretzer, K. N. Heck, M. S. Wong, "Supporting palladium metal on gold nanoparticles improves its catalysis for nitrite reduction" Nanoscale, 6, 358-364 (2014). DOI: 10.1039/C3NR04540D (Abstract)

92. M. D. Blankschien, L. A. Pretzer, R. Huschka, N. J. Halas, R. Gonzalez, and M. S. Wong, "Light-triggered biocatalysis using thermophilic enzyme–gold nanoparticle complexes," ACS Nano, 7 (1), 654-663 (2013). DOI: 10.1021/nn3048445 (Abstract)

89. M. Thakur, S. L. Sinsabaugh, M. J. Isaacson, M. S. Wong, and S. L. Biswal, "Inexpensive method for producing macroporous silicon particulates (MPSPs) with pyrolyzed polyacrylonitrile for lithium ion batteries," Scientific Reports, 2: 795, 1-7 (2012). DOI: 10.1038/srep00795 (Abstract)

76. H. G. Bagaria and M. S. Wong, "Polyamine–salt aggregate assembly of capsules as responsive drug delivery vehicles," J. Mater. Chem., 21 (26), 9454-9466 (2011). DOI: 10.1039/C1JM10712G (Abstract) (Feature Article)

75. H. G. Bagaria, M. R. Dean, C. A. Nichol, and M. S. Wong, "Self-Assembly and Nanotechnology: Real-Time, Hands-On, and Safe Experiments for K-12 Students," J. Chem. Educ., 88 (5), 609-614 (2011). DOI: 10.1021/ed100598y (Abstract)

66. N. Soultanidis, W. Zhou, A. C. Psarras, A. J. Gonzalez, E. F. Iliopoulou, C. J. Kiely, I. E. Wachs, and M. S. Wong, "Relating n-Pentane Isomerization Activity to the Tungsten Surface Density of WOx/ZrO2," J. Am. Chem. Soc., 132 (38), 13462-13471 (2010). DOI: 10.1021/ja105519y (Abstract)

58. J. Yu, D. Javier, M. A. Yaseen, N. Nitin, R. Richards-Kortum, B. Anvari and M.S. Wong, "Self-assembly Synthesis, Tumor Cell Targeting, and Photothermal Capabilities of Antibody-coated Indocyanine Green Nanocapsules," J. Am. Chem. Soc., 132 (6), 1929-1938 (2010). DOI:10.1021/ja908139y (Abstract)

57. W. Zhou, E. I. Ross-Medgaarden, W. V. Knowles, M. S. Wong, I. E. Wachs and C. J. Kiely, "Identification of Active Zr–WOx Clusters on a ZrO2 Support for Solid Acid Catalysts," Nature. Chem, 1, 722-728 (2009). DOI:10.1038/NCHEM.433 (Abstract)

49. M. S. Wong, P. J.J. Alvarez, Y.L. Fang, N. Akcin, M. O. Nutt, J. T. Miller, and K. N. Heck, "Cleaner Water using Bimetallic Nanoparticle Catalysts" J. Chem. Tech. & Biotech, 84, 158-166 (2009). DOI:10.1002/jctb.2002 (Abstract)

46. K.N. Heck, B.G. Janesko, G.E. Scuseria, N.J. Halas and M.S.Wong, "Observing Metal-Catalyzed Chemical Reactions in Situ Using Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy on Pd-Au Nanoshells" J. Am. Chem. Soc. , 130 (49), 16592–16600 (2008). DOI:10.1021/ja803556k (Abstract) (AIChE-STS Best Fundamental Paper Award)

37. S. Asokan, K. M. Krueger, V. L. Colvin, and M. S. Wong, "Shape-Controlled Synthesis of CdSe Tetrapods Using Cationic Surfactant Ligands," Small 3(7), 1164-1169 (2007). DOI: 10.1002/smll.200700120 (Abstract) (A "most accessed article" in Small in 2007)

32. P. R. LeDuc, M. S. Wong, et al., "Towards an in vivo Biologically Inspired Nanofactory," Nature Nanotech., 2, 3-7 (2007). DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2006.180 (Abstract)

21. R. K. Rana, V. S. Murthy, J. Yu and M. S. Wong, "Nanoparticle Self-assembly of Hierarchically Ordered Microcapsule Structures," Adv. Mater. 17, 1145-1150 (2005). (Cover Article) DOI: 10.1002/adma.200401612 (Abstract)

17. M. O. Nutt, J. B. Hughes and M. S. Wong, "Designing Pd-on-Au Bimetallic Nanoparticle Catalysts for Trichloroethene Hydrodechlorination," Environ. Sci. Technol. 39, 1346 - 1353 (2005). DOI: 10.1021/es048560b (Abstract) (AIChE-STS Best Applied Paper Award) (3rd place, Graduate Student Paper Award, AIChE Environmental Division)

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