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University of Wisconsin - Madison College of Engineering


Marc A Anderson.

Marc Anderson
Chemical and Biological Engineering

A pioneer in nanoscience, Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Marc Anderson is renowned for his creativity and groundbreaking research in controlled colloid synthesis.

His contributions to light–activated semiconductor oxide catalysts and sol–gel inorganic metal oxide synthesis span fundamental surface chemistry, novel spectroscopy applications, new oxide coating synthesis methods, new material forms, and new catalysts. “His remarkable output of publications, patents and PhDs display a beautifully balanced and combined academic productivity which is unmatched by any other U.S. academic in this area,” says David Ollis, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at North Carolina State University.

In particular, Anderson’s 1991 paper, “Semiconductor clusters in the sol–gel process: Quantized aggregation, gelation and crystal growth in concentrated ZnO colloids,” authored with then–visiting professor Lubomir Spanhel, sets forth synthesis and characterization methods that researchers still use to investigate controlled zinc–oxide particle growth. The sol–gel process enables researchers to transform a precursor chemical solution into a colloidal suspension. From this two–phase mixture of nanoscale particles or polymers, they ultimately can fabricate materials such as metal oxide ceramic membranes or thin films.

Since its publication, researchers have cited the paper an average of 40 times per year and worldwide, it is one of the nine most–cited original contributions in sol–gel work. “Professor Anderson is among the first to explore the synthesis of nanomaterials, exemplified by ZnS, using a sol–gel process that is amenable to scaling up at controllable size,” says C.P. Huang, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Delaware. “They have pioneered the synthesis of nanoparticles at least one decade ahead of everybody.”

Anderson has used nano–particulate materials such as zinc oxide (ZnO) to construct novel and commercially viable devices with such applications as air and water filtration or environmentally benign energy storage and delivery systems. Made from metal–oxide nano–particulate clusters, Anderson’s microporous ceramic materials also are used for photocatalysis, thermal catalysis, high–temperature gas–phase reactors, adsorbents, capacitors, batteries, fuel cells, and solar cells.

Anderson also is a clear U.S. leader in novel approaches to synthesizing and characterizing photo–active titanium oxides and zinc oxide, the central materials of photocatalysis, says Ollis. “He has been adventuresome in defining new fields for civil and environmental engineering, and has been creative in showing that the traditional area of colloid chemistry has a rich future in environmental processing and light–activated technologies,” he says.