April 2002

From American Chemical Society

Texas A&M chemist wins national award for new ways to analyze molecules

D. Wayne Goodman of College Station, Texas, will be honored April 9 by the world's largest scientific society for developing techniques to scrutinize catalysts -- chemistry's orchestrators, which help make everything from gasoline to pharmaceuticals -- in ever greater detail. He will receive the 2002 Arthur W. Adamson Award for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Surface Chemistry from the American Chemical Society at its national meeting in Orlando, Fla.

"We work in the area of catalysts," said Goodman, a surface chemist at Texas A&M University. These substances make chemical reactions more feasible by stitching their products together at lower temperatures and pressures than they would normally require.

That makes them "really important, but not well understood that well at the molecular level," he said. "Part of it is their complexity, and part of it is the tools have not really been available until recently."

Goodman and his research team have helped develop those tools. In particular they explore techniques to make versions of catalysts stripped down to their essentials and to study their surfaces, the atomic features with which they direct molecules in a reaction.

One company in the industry has approached Goodman to collaborate on studies to develop a gold-based catalyst for making propylene oxide, a starting material of detergents, plastics and a variety of other petroleum-derived products. Gold is a prime candidate for nanocatalysts, chemical orchestrators whose small size can offer exquisite control.

Goodman said he was interested in science growing up "because it was the golden era of science [in the 1950s] -- I wanted to be an astronaut or fly airplanes," he said. "But I wore glasses, so I opted for physics as a career. I took chemistry as part of that and found I liked it better."

Goodman received his undergraduate degree from Mississippi College in 1968 and his Ph.D. from the University of Texas in 1974. He is a member of the ACS division of surface and colloid chemistry.

The ACS Arthur W. Adamson Award for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Surface Chemistry is sponsored by Occidental Petroleum Corp.

This article comes from Science Blog. Copyright 2004

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