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. How can we design solid catalysts that enable the sustainable use and management of our natural resources?

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 welcome our newest Post-Doctoral Researcher, Wenqing Zhang, to the group! April 1, 2021
Prof. Wong was selected as a recipient of the inaugural D&I Faculty/Staff Recognition Award by the NEWT Center March 30, 2021
Dr. Xu's work on heavy oil viscosity reduction is available online - Great work Yan! March 12, 2021
Dr. Powell's latest work on radiofrequency heating has been published - Congratulations Camilah! March 11, 2021
We are so proud of Josh Samba, chosen as a 2021 Hertz Fellowship Finalist! February 4, 2021
We are so pleased to announce that Yan successfully defended her PhD thesis work, Understanding Heavy Oil Viscosity Reduction Chemistry Using Metal-Ligand Compounds! January 25, 2021
We welcome our newest MChE student, Rhea Nargund, to the group! January 4, 2021
Congratulations to Dr. Chelsea Clark! She impressed her comittee members with a fantastic thesis defense titled, Rh-Based Catalysis Chemistry of Aqueous-Phase Nitrogen Treatment Reactions. November 24, 2020
ACS recognizes Wong, Alvarez for work on fracking byproduct 'produced water' November 9, 2020
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
Leading a team of researchers from UT El Paso, Yale, ASU, and Rice, Dr. Camilah Powell quantified the magnetic and aresenic adsorption propertoes of carbon-coated iron carbide. The paper is out! September 12, 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 nanocubes 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

News Archive