Opening Plenary MWRM 2022

Nanomaterials and Global Sustainability: The Importance of Chemists

Professor Robert Hamers – University of Wisconsin-Madison

October 19th, 2022


Nanomaterials have unique chemical and physical properties that are driving widespread use in numerous applications.  Yet, questions arise about how nanomaterials interact with the environment. While early studies of nanoparticles in the environment focused on highly stable compositions, nanomaterial compositions being using in current and emerging nano-enabled technologies often have compositions that are intrinsically reactive, driving a need to understand how nanomaterials transform in biological environment, and how these transformations impact the biochemical machinery. For example, high-valent oxides such as LiCoO2 (the active cathode materials in lithium-ion batteries) can interact with redox-active biomolecules such as NADH in a way that accelerates the transformation of the nanoparticles and increases the release of Co and other potentially toxic transition metals. Although some nanomaterials can have adverse impact on different life forms, a new and emerging area of interest is the use of nanomaterials to improve the health of plants by supplying micronutrients in a more sustainable manner. As one example, the use of CuO nanoparticles provides protection against plant fungal diseases using Cu amounts hat are 100-fold smaller than conventional application of Cu salts. The targeted use of nanomaterial in agriculture has enormous potential for addressing the grand challenge of feeding the world’s population and mitigating the effects of global climate change.  In this talk I will describe some of the work being conducting in the NSF Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology to improve sustainable use of nanomaterials for societal benefit, and highlight the unique role that chemists can play. 

Author Biography:

Robert Hamers is the Director of the NSF Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology and is the Steenbock Professor of Physical Sciences, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A native of Wisconsin, he completed his undergraduate training at the University of Wisconsin-Madison  and completed  his Ph.D. degree at Cornell University. He was a visiting scientist and subsequently a Research staff Member at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Laboratory in Yorktown Heights, N.Y.  in the “Nanophysics” group. He subsequently returned to Wisconsin in 1990 as a faculty member, where his research interests focus on surface chemistry of nanomaterials and wide-bandgap semiconductors such as diamond. He is a co-founder of Silatronix, a start-up company commercializing novel organosilicon-based electrolytes to improve the safety and performance of lithium ion batteries and related energy storage devices, and is the co-founder and lead faculty member on the UW/ACS Bridge to the Chemistry Doctorate Program, which provides opportunities for students from under-represented groups and non-traditional backgrounds to advance to Ph.D. study in chemistry.

Location: Wayne Ballroom C&D

Time: 6:30pm

Closing Plenary MWRM 2022

Microheterotopias: Chemistry Meets Glassblowing

Professor Catherine M. Jackson – University of Oxford

October 21st, 2022


The American Chemical Society’s logo includes a triangular graphic representing an item of scientific glassware. This is the Kaliapparat (potash bulbs). Desperate to solve one of the most pressing scientific problems of his day, the young Justus Liebig made the first Kaliapparat in the fall of 1830. Using the Kaliapparat, he became one of the nineteenth century’s greatest chemists. But the Kaliapparat altered much more than the course of Liebig’s career. His decision to make the Kaliapparat by bending and blowing glass tubing changed how chemists worked and were trained, with important consequences for the developing science of chemistry and its relationship to glassblowing. Managing other worlds in glass – the Microheterotopias of my title – is vital in chemists’ ability to control and manipulate matter. But making Microheterotopias relies on the skill of the scientific glassblower. This talk explains what happened when chemistry met glassblowing – and why that connection remains vital today.

Author Biography:

Catherine M. Jackson is Associate Professor of the History of Science in the University of Oxford and Peck Fellow at Harris Manchester College. She was previously Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A native of the UK, Jackson originally trained as a synthetic organic chemist in Cambridge (PhD, 1989) before working for almost a decade in the petroleum industry. Drawn to the history of science through a second career teaching chemistry, she retrained as a historian of science at the University of London (PhD, 2009). She has held research fellowships at the University of Notre Dame and Chemical Heritage Foundation in the USA, and at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, Germany.

Location: W290 Chemistry Building, University of Iowa

Time: 5:30pm

Hosted by: American Chemical Society Midwest Regional Meeting; Midwest Section of the American Scientific Glassblowers Society; UI Department of Chemistry