Schaak Group:  Synthesis and applications of

nanoscale inorganic solids


Our research is driven by synthesis – developing new synthetic methodologies that fill critical gaps in the current “toolbox” of techniques available in the solid-state chemistry and nanoscience communities, and applying these new synthetic tools to important problems in both fundamental and applied science.  In all of our endeavors, we integrate ideas and techniques from solid-state chemistry, solution (molecular) chemistry, and nanoscience, and this allows us to tackle important and often longstanding scientific problems that lie at the interface between chemistry, physics, materials science, and various engineering disciplines.  Our current focus areas, which are integrated by the central theme of low-temperature chemical routes to solid-state materials, are the following:

  1. BulletLow-temperature chemical routes to non-equilibrium solids

  2. Bullet“Total synthesis” of complex multi-functional inorganic nanostructures

  3. BulletCatalytic nanostructures for chemical synthesis and energy applications

  4. BulletColloidal synthesis of size- and shape-controlled nanocrystals

  5. BulletBiological routes to inorganic solids


Left to Right: Du Sun, Dimitri Vaughn, Michael Schrenk, Adam Biacchi, Alex Wiltrout, Raymond Schaak, Juan Callejas, Carlos Read, Josh McEnaney, Matt Remy, James Hodges, Beth Essinger-Hileman, Eric Popczun, Matt Bradley

and Matt Buck

recent news highlights

  1. BulletAdam Biacchi's and Dimitri Vaughn's collaborative paper on the shape-controlled synthesis and tour-de-force crystallographic analysis of colloidal SnS nanocrystals has been accepted for publication in JACS.

  2. BulletWelcome to our new postdoc, Dr. Tom Gordon, from Chris Murray's group at UPenn and a fellow Lebanon Valley College alum.

  3. BulletWelcome to our summer researchers:  REU student Jose Araujo from Richard Brutchey's lab at USC and incoming graduate student Erik Jewell, who did an REU with Janet Macdonald at Vanderbilt last summer.

  4. BulletEric Popczun's paper on nanostructured Ni2P as a hydrogen evolution catalyst, a collaboration with Nate Lewis's group that was funded by NSF's "Powering the Planet" Center for Chemical Innovation, has appeared in JACS and was featured in worldwide news venues and on NSF's website.

  5. BulletCongratulations to our newest Ph.D.'s:  Dr. Matthew Buck and Dr. Beth Essinger-Hileman.

  6. BulletBest of luck to postdoc Matt Remy, who begins his new position at Dow in June.

  7. BulletLast year's REU student, Chance Crompton, has begun graduate school at Caltech and is working as part of our collaborative project with Prof. Nate Lewis.

  8. BulletBeth Essinger-Hileman's paper on the use of material-specific peptides for the separation of nanoparticle mixtures has appeared in Chem. Comm.

  9. BulletMatt Buck's paper on the synthesis of colloidal GeTe nanostructures has appeared in Chem. Mater.

  10. BulletMatt Bradley's paper on the application of chemical transformation reactions to colloidal hybrid nanoparticles has appeared in Chem. Mater.

  11. BulletMatt Buck's review article on emerging strategies for the total synthesis of inorganic nanostructures has appeared in Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.

  12. BulletDimitri Vaughn's review article on the synthesis, properties, and applications of colloidal germanium nanoparticles has appeared in Chem. Soc. Rev.

  13. BulletA perspective article on the practical aspects of nanoscale total synthesis, authored jointly by Ray Schaak and Mary Beth Williams, has appeared in ACS Nano.

  14. BulletCongratulations to Dimitri Vaughn and Du Sun, whose paper on GeSe nanobelts was featured on the cover of Chem. Mater.!

  15. BulletDimitri Vaughn's and Du Sun's paper describing the synthesis and properties of GeSe nanobelts, a collaboration with Theresa Mayer's group, has appeared in Chem. Mater.

  16. BulletWelcome to our new first-year graduate students, Juan Callejas and Jim Hodges.

Professor Raymond E. Schaak

Department of Chemistry

The Pennsylvania State University

104 Chemistry Building

University Park, PA 16802

Email:  res20 @

Phone:  814-865-8600

Fax:  814-865-3292

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