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Abhaya Datye is Named Regents' Professor

November 30, 2009

The School of Engineering has named Abhaya Datye, Distinguished Professor in the Chemical & Nuclear Engineering Department, to a Regents Professorship. Datye received a National Science Foundation Excellence Award from the Industrial Innovation and Partnerships Division in 2008 and both the Senior Research and the Teaching Excellence Awards from the School of Engineering.

Datye serves as the Director of the Center for Microengineered Materials and has been instrumental in developing a graduate program in NanoScience and MicroSystems (NSMS) at UNM. He leads the NSF Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) and Department of Education Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) graduate fellowship programs in NSMS while also serving as the undergraduate advisor in the Chemical and Nuclear Engineering Department.

The NSF Partnership for International Research and Education (PIRE) involves three other U.S. institutions and research groups in Denmark, Germany, Netherlands and Finland to provide opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students and post-docs to gain international research experiences. With support from NSF/PIRE, Datye’s students have been able to work with researchers in Denmark to perform in-situ studies of the migration and coalescence of nanoparticles at elevated temperatures and in the presence of various gas phase molecules. Datye says the understanding of metal particle dynamics has broad applications in all sorts of coating applications and thin film synthesis, as well as catalysis.

Datye’s research group is working in a variety of areas including research into the dynamics of small particles, which is supported by the NSF. In collaboration with Sandia National Laboratories, they have used an atom tracking mechanism to follow the motion of individual metal particles on oxide surfaces.

In research supported by the Center for Ceramic and Composite Material and the Materials Corridor Council, he and his collaborators and students are exploring novel approaches for the synthesis of catalytic materials. The discovery of self-assembly via surfactants and the ability to shape inorganic materials has opened up a new frontier for materials synthesis. The self assembly processes allow them to make high surface area materials with controlled nanoscale pore structures which can help to support catalytically active nanophases.

The Department of Energy’s Office of Basic Energy Science program and industry support had helped support his groups’ fundamental research into the properties of supported catalysts. High temperature treatment, the gas atmosphere and support chemistry all play a role in the way supported catalysts perform.

Datye says there is much that is unknown about the role of adsorbates and other factors in catalysis, and a better understanding of the factors could lead to improved industrial catalysts. His group is studying how bimetallic Pd based catalysts can be used for selective hydrogenation of acetylene and for stream reforming of alcohols to produce hydrogen.

The Collaborative Technology Alliance, funded by the Army Research Lab and industry have supported another area of research into how micro-reformers can be used to convert methanol into hydrogen for fuel cells.

Among his other professional activities Datye directs an NSF/Research Experiences for Undergraduates Site Program for students from other universities to spend 10 weeks on campus working with UNM researchers. This program has been operating since 1994 and has provided research experiences to more than 186 undergraduate students. He has also been elected as the Chair of the 2010 Gordon Research Conference on Catalysis.

Regent’s Professors are appointed for three year terms.