The Catalysis & Nanomaterials Laboratory


The Catalysis and Nanomaterials Laboratory, directed by Professor Michael S. Wong, is located in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, in the George R. Brown School of 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 Research.


Structure-property analysis of bimetallic catalysts

Nanoparticle synthesis and catalysis

Heterogeneous catalysis for water cleanup

Biomass upgrading chemistry

Hydrocarbon upgrading chemistry

Nanoparticle assembly

Enhanced oil recovery and downhole detection using nanomaterials

Advanced materials processing of microcapsules, quantum dots, and supported metal oxides.

Recent News.


We wish a fond farewell to two of our visiting scholars, Ms. Lijie Duan and Dr. Yongchao Li. We wish them both the best and are grateful for their contributions to the group! September 17, 2020
Very nice work by Sujin (with Camilah and Prof. Dino Villagran) on developing magnetically responsive nitrate reduction catalysts, published in ES Nano! August 25, 2020
Congratulations to Dr. Sujin Guo, for successfully defending her Environmental Engineering Ph.D. thesis dissertation on Advanced Reduction of Nitrogen-Oxyanions Using Precious Metal-Based Model Catalyst! July 16, 2020
We are happy to contribute to an international study on nanostructured materials and engineering needs for electrochemical treatment of water! June 19, 2020
Congratulations to Bo and Lijie for publishing their work on the photocatalytic degradation of PFOA. June 14, 2020
Nice work on graphene oxide/MOF magnetic adsorbents for brackish water treatment! Collaboration with Julie Zimmerman and Jorge Gardea-Torresday, led by Dino Villagran's group. June 10, 2020
We are very excited to welcome the two newest members to the group: Mr. Joshua Samba (Ph.D. student in Applied Physics) and Mr. Kiheon Hong (Ph.D. student in Civil and Environmental Engineering)! June 1, 2020
Congrats to Welman and Kim, who published their paper on indium-decorated Pd nanotubes for no-ammonia nitrate reduction! May 28, 2020
Thanks to a new Rice University COVID-19 research grant, we will now work with the Verduzco group and NASA on new ventilator technology! May 26, 2020
Shengqi (Peter) Hang was selected to receive the Dr. Zevi & Bertha Salsburg Memorial Fellowship from the Department of Chemistry - Congratulations! May 18, 2020
We are so happy to celebrate the advanced degrees of four group members (2 PhDs, 1 MS, 1 MChE) at the 107th Commencement Ceremony! May 16, 2020
Ben and Chris' latest work on the catalytic treatment of high-salinity produced water has just been published. May 8, 2020
First collaboration with Meny Elimelech and his research group! May 1, 2020
Yan's latest work on heavy oil viscosity reduction has just been published in Fuel. Congratulations to Yan and her team! April 18, 2020
The Rice Engineering Alumni (REA) has awarded Tanya with a Graduate Student Travel Grant to support her travel to the International Conference on Environmental Systems to present her work on water treatment in space. Thank you, REA! April 17, 2020
Two publications from the group have been selected for the "Best Papers 2019" Collection by Environmental Science: Nano as part of the Enviornmental Science Best Papers Initiative by the Royal Society of Chemistry. April 16, 2020
Chris has been awarded with a Graduate Student Travel Grant by the Rice Engineering Alumni (REA) to support his travel to the Permian Basin Water in Energy Conference. Congratulations Chris, and thank you to the REA! April 6, 2020
Chris has been selected to recieve a travel award to the 17th International Congress on Catalysis. Congratulations Chris! March 13, 2020
Our most recent collaborative work has been published! Here, we highlight the discrepancies between typical lab-scale experiments and real waters for environmental water treatment applications. Nice work Tanya and Chris! March 5, 2020
A new paper about using table salt to synthesize chemicals from sugars! March 3, 2020
Camilah led a three-university team to study the engineering parameters of a Fe3O4-based arsenic treatment unit. Her MagNERD paper is published! February 12, 2020
Dr. Wong receives the 2019 Southwest Region American Chemical Society Award for his “meritorious contributions to the advancement of chemistry, chemical engineering, chemical education, either pure or applied, to the profession in general.” February 5, 2020
Dr. Wong begins his term as a Councilor for the American Chemical Society, representing the CATL Division January 2020
Congratulations Dr. Powell! Camilah successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis dissertation on Development of Non-Conventional Iron-Based Nanomaterials for Water Treatment. January 15, 2020
Chris' work on fit-for-purpose treatment options for produced water in shale oil and gas fields is an outstanding collaboration between academia and industry. It is now published! January 13, 2020
Camilah has been selected as the co-winner of the 2019 AIChE Env. Div. Student Poster Competition for her posters on adsorptive arsenic removal and nitroarene reduction by AMF. Nice work Camilah! December 17, 2019
Congratulations Dr. Yin! Ben successfully defended his thesis work Sensing and Mitigating Water Contaminants with Engineered Gold-Based Nanostructures. December 12, 2019
Ben's latest work on the catalytic oxidation of methyl-glucoside has just been published. December 3, 2019
Chelsea's paper, Mechanistic Insights into pH-Controlled Nitrite Reduction to Ammonia and Hydrazine over Rhodium was just published in ACS Catalysis. November 27, 2019
We welcome Zheng Li (co-advised by Prof. Abbas Firoozabadi) as the newest visiting scholar to the group. November 11, 2019
We are all very excited to welcome Juan Donoso (Fulbright Fellow) as the newest graduate student in the group! November 11, 2019
Chelsea's recent work on the adsorptive removal of PFOS using UiO-66 has earned her 1st place in the 2019 Enviornmental Division Graduate Student Paper Awards at AIChE. November 6, 2019
Priscilla's lastest work on the desulfurization of liquid fuels has just been published in I&EC Research! October 9, 2019
Dr. Wong received the William M. McCardell Professor in Chemical Engineering endowed chair from the University! October 1, 2019
We are all very excited to welcome our newest visiting scholar from the Hunan University of Science and Technology, Dr. Yongchao Li. September 26, 2019
Kim's latest work on the degradation of 1,4-dioxane was just published in RSC Advances. Congratulations Kim! August 28, 2019
New experiment-theory work on metal-on-metal catalyst design for nitrite reduction, in collaboration with Henkelman group (UT Austin)! July 18, 2019
Congratulations to Ben and Tanya for being elected to the inaugural class of NSF NEWT Fellows! June 18, 2019
Congratulations to our newest alumni, Samantha Samaniego, who successfully defended her MS thesis research on Gas Chromatography Study of Sulfur Removal from Jet Fuel using Nanoporous Materials! June 12, 2019
We are very excited to welcome two new visiting scholars, Kaitlin and Michelle, for the summer. They are local K-12 science teachers joining us through the NEWT RET program. June 10, 2019
We are pleased to welcome Ms. Xinying Luan (first-year ChBE graduate student) as a visitor to our lab for the summer. May 30, 2019
Ben's work on PdAu-catalyzed oxidation through in situ generated H2O2 in simulated produced water was just published online in Catalysis Today. May 12, 2019
Ben and Chris' work on Microencapsulated Photoluminescent Gold for ppb-level Chromium(VI) Sensing was just accepted to ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. May 2, 2019
Kim's recent work has been featured as the cover article for the special issues of Accounts of Chemical Research "Water for Two Worlds: Urban and Rural Communities". April 16, 2019
Published! An international assessment of nanotechnology opportunities for groundwater and soil decontamination (in Environ. Sci.: Nano). April 11, 2019
Chelsea has received the 2019 Richard J. Kokes Travel Award to fund her trip to the 26th North American Catalysis Society (NACS) meeting in Chicago, IL later this year. Congratulations Chelsea! April 5, 2019
Chelsea paper Highly Defective UiO-66 Materials for the Adsorptive Removal of PFOS has just been published in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering. Way to go Chelsea! March 5, 2019
Congratulations Kim for the first publication of 2019! February 22, 2019

News Archive