Castleman receives 2010 Irving Langmuir Award in Chemical Physics

November 02, 2009

A. Welford Castleman Jr., Evan Pugh professor of chemistry and physics and Eberly Family Distinguished Chair in science at Penn State, is the recipient of the 2010 Irving Langmuir Award in Chemical Physics from the American Chemical Society (ACS). This award is intended to recognize and encourage outstanding interdisciplinary research in chemistry and physics, in the spirit of Irving Langmuir, an American chemist and physicist. Langmuir is noted for advancing several basic fields of physics and chemistry. He invented the gas-filled incandescent lamp and received the 1932 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in surface chemistry.  The Langmuir award is presented biennially by the American Chemical Society in even-numbered years and by the American Physical Society in odd-numbered years. 

A member of the Penn State faculty since 1982, Castleman conducts research that focuses on small clusters of atoms and molecules. In particular, he is interested in investigating why nanoscale matter behaves differently from large-scale matter. He has developed the concept of superatoms, originally termed unified atoms, that are comprised of clusters that mimic elements of the periodic table. These superatoms can function as building blocks of new nanoscale materials that have tailored properties and that are formed by the assembly of clusters. He also pursues topics ranging from such fundamental issues as the effect of quantum confinement and solvation on reactions to more applied issues in catalysis, materials science, and atmospheric chemistry. In 1992, his group created the first Metallo-carbohedrenes, or Met-Cars. These combinations of carbon and metal atoms are expected to have applications as catalysts, perhaps as superconductors, and as quantum wells in semiconductor devices. In 1997, Castleman developed a unique method for arresting intermediates in chemical reactions by using a Coulomb explosion and special femtosecond-laser techniques.

Most recently, Castleman became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry this year, and he was presented with the Rensselaer Alumni Association Thomas W. Phelan Fellows Award in 2008. In 2000, he received the Wilhelm Jost Memorial Lectureship Award from the German Chemical Society (Bunsen-Gesellschaft fuer Physikalische Chemie). He was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and he became a Fellow of both the American Academy for Arts and Sciences and the New York Academy of Sciences in 1998. He was a Fulbright Senior Scholar in 1989. In 1988, he was the recipient of the American Chemical Society Award for Creative Advances in Environmental Science and Technology, and in 1987 he was awarded a Doktors Honoris Causa from the University of Innsbruck, Austria. Castleman was named a U.S. Senior Scientist von Humboldt Awardee in 1986, 1996, 2007, 2008, and 2009; and he was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Physical Society in 1985. He was honored as a Senior Fellow of the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science in 1985 and 1997, and as a Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Scholar at the California Institute of Technology in 1977.

Castleman received a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1957 and a doctoral degree from the Polytechnic Institute of New York in 1969. He was a staff member of the Brookhaven National Laboratory from 1958 to 1975, an adjunct professor in the Departments of Mechanics and Earth and Space Sciences at the State University of New York, Stony Brook from 1973 to 1975, and a professor of chemistry and fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado, Boulder from 1975 to 1982. In 1982, he accepted a professorship in the Department of Chemistry at Penn State, and was honored with the title Evan Pugh Professor in 1986. In 1999, Castleman was appointed Eberly distinguished chair in science and was given a joint professorship in the Department of Physics. He has been a member of the advisory board for the Penn State Particulate Materials Center and is currently a member of the Materials Research Institute.

  • A. Welford Castleman Jr., Evan Pugh professor of chemistry and physics and Eberly family distinguished chair in science at Penn State.

    IMAGE: Penn State

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