His chemical approach to materials synthesis solved problems in many fields

Mallouk Helped Usher in the Nano Revolution

Thomas E. Mallouk and his research group were among the first to connect the fields of solid state and molecular chemistry through their molecules-to-materials approach. Their work formed the materials synthesis nucleus of the Penn State MRSEC, founded in 1999.

To solve a problem of environmental pollution, Mallouk developed a simple method to deliver iron nanoparticles through soil that is widely used today to remediate toxic compounds underground. Mallouk’s work in the late 1990s led to improved electrocatalysts, now used in electrolyzers and fuel cells.

His group developed the electrochemical synthesis of nanowire superconductors, electronic devices, sensors, and solar cells. This led to the discovery, with his Penn State colleague Ayusman Sen, of catalytic nanomotors in 2004, opening a new field in which Penn State has been a world leader. He was also a pioneer in artificial photosynthesis, creating in 2009 the first molecular system for splitting water with visible light.

Mallouk joined Penn State in 1993 and was named an Evan Pugh Professor in 2010. In 2015, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. He has co-authored 450 papers and 11 patents.