John Vohs Wins the 2007 Catalysis Club of Philadelphia Award


John Vohs, the Carl V.S. Patterson Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, is the recipient of the 2007 Catalysis Club of Philadelphia Award. The award is given for outstanding contributions to the advancement of catalysis in scientific or technological areas or in organizational leadership.

Award nominators emphasized Vohs’ pioneering work in the application of surface science techniques to understand reaction mechanisms and site requirements on metal oxide single crystals. He demonstrated the use of High Resolution Electron Energy Loss Spectroscopy (HREELS) to obtain vibrational spectra of reactive intermediates on the surfaces of semiconducting and insulating metal oxides. This work, which continues to be highly cited today, was vital to making the connection between model single crystal surfaces and high surface area powder catalysts, especially in demonstrating mechanisms and site requirements from model systems that could be applied to complex materials. His HREELS and XPS work on vanadia, titania, and ceria-based materials helped to understand the surface properties of these materials and lead to applied research on oxygen storage processes which is of vital importance to solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs). As a leader in this field, Professor Vohs contributed to the fundamental understanding of related reaction and transport processes, as well as strategies for preventing deactivation and coking in these devices. Moreover, he is one of a small but growing number of researchers who are demonstrating a new paradigm for design of new catalytic materials from atomistic understanding.

In addition to his research contributions, Professor Vohs has advised nearly 20 graduate students and about the same number of postdoctoral fellows during his 18 years at Penn, and served as Associate Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science from 1997-2001.