Position Type
- Present

I have always been fascinated with understanding how and why the natural world works the way it does, exploring webs of cause and effect, and peeling back layers of explanation down to the atomic and molecular level. For me, studying chemistry is a natural expression of that curiosity, and I love sharing my passion with students. I’ve been teaching chemistry in one form or another for some 20 years, and my favorite part is interacting with students — teaching and mentoring them, inciting their curiosity, getting to know them, and learning from them.

Chemistry also provides us with key tools to address one of the greatest challenges facing humankind in the 21st century: anthropogenic climate change. My research is focused on developing new materials that can be used to generate carbon-free and 100% renewable energy from sunlight that are cost-competitive with fossil fuels. Students in my research group use simple and scalable synthesis methods to make working solar cells from low-cost, abundant, and non-toxic materials. Our goal is to discover new materials, use nanotechnology to transform low-cost materials into high-performing ones, and to characterize their physical and photoelectrochemical properties to better understand structure-function relationships in photocatalytic solar cells.

When I’m not in the classroom or in the laboratory, you’ll often find me rock climbing, or perhaps camping, hiking, backpacking, snowboarding, or surfing when I get a chance!

B.A., Reed College; Ph.D., California Institute of Technology

Learning & Teaching

  • Principles of Chemistry: Atoms and Molecules (Chem 131)
  • Structure and Reactivity of Organic Molecules (Chem 132)
  • Intermediate Analytical Chemistry (Chem 331)
  • Chemistry and Materials of Sustainable Energy (Chem 428)
  • Instrumental Analysis (Chem 431)


A materials and physical chemist, I work on synthesis and characterization of semiconducting nanomaterials for use in solar cells that produce clean and renewable fuels. Combined with low-cost synthetic methods that rely on self-assembly to make nanostructures, I use electrochemical and spectroscopic methods to probe and better understand interfacial electron-transfer reactions in working solar cells.

In the Katz Group, students work at the exciting interface of electrochemistry, physical chemistry, nanotechnology, and materials science. Projects involve a blend of synthesis as well as characterization by instrumental methods. We develop synthetic methods to produce novel nanomaterials with unique architectures and new compositions. We then characterize the physical and chemical structure of these materials, using techniques such as X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS). We build working solar cells and measure their performance using an assortment of electrochemical methods, such as current-voltage (I-V) curves, spectral response (aka external quantum yield or IPCE), and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS). All of our research is done in the context of working to solve what many believe to be one of the most important scientific challenges facing humanity in the 21st century: finding a renewable energy source that does not aggravate global climate change or otherwise harm the environment, while fully meeting the rapidly growing demand for energy worldwide.


  • Ishaq, S.; Sikora, A.; Scheidler, N.; Hambleton, C.; Katz, J. E. Enhancement of Water Oxidation Photocurrent for Iron Oxide Thin Films Electrodeposited in the Presence of Polyvinylpyrrolidone, Journal of the Electrochemical Society 2016, 163, F1330–F1336.
  • Gilbert, B.; Katz, J. E.; Huse, N.; Zhang, X.; Frandsen, C.; Falcone, R. W.; Waychunas, G. A. Ultrafast Electron and Energy Transfer in Dye-Sensitized Iron Oxide and Oxyhydroxide Nanoparticles.  Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics  2013, 15, 17303-17313.
  • Katz, J. E.; Zhang, X.; Attenkofer, K.; Chapman, K.; Frandsen, C.; Zarzycki, P.; Rosso, K.; Falcone, R.; Waychunas, G. A.; Gilbert, B. Electron Small Polarons and Their Mobility in Iron (Oxyhydr)oxide Nanoparticles.  Science  2012, 337, 1200-1203.
  • Gilbert, B.; Katz, J. E.; Rude, B.; Glover, T.; Hertlein, M.; Kurtz, C.; Zhang, X.  Thin Water Film Formation on Metal Oxide Crystal Surfaces, Langmuir  2012, 28, 14308-14312.
  • Gilbert, B.; Katz, J. E.; Denlinger, J. D.; Yin, Y; Falcone, R.; Waychunas, G. A. Soft X-ray Spectroscopy Study of the Electronic Structure of Oxidized and Partially Oxidized Magnetite Nanoparticles. Journal of Physical Chemistry C  2010, 114, 21994-22001.
  • Katz, J. E.; Gilbert, B.; Zhang, X.; Attenkofer, K.; Falcone, R.; Waychunas, G. A. Observation of Transient Iron(II) Formation in Dye-Sensitized Iron Oxide Nanoparticles by Time-Resolved X-ray Spectroscopy. Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters  2010, 1, 1372-1376.
  • Paulauskas, I. E.; Katz, J. E.; Jellison, G. E. Jr.; Lewis, N. S.; Boatner, L.; Brown, G. Growth, Characterization, and Electrochemical Properties of Doped n-type KTaO3 Photoanodes. Journal of the Electrochemical Society  2009, 156, B580-B587.
  • Katz, J. E.; Gingrich, T. R.; Santori, E. A.; Lewis, N. S. Combinatorial Synthesis and High-Throughput Photovoltage and Photocurrent Screening of Mixed-Metal Oxides for Photoelectrochemical Water Splitting. Energy & Environmental Science  2009, 2, 103-112.
  • Faculty Research Dinner, Denison University, Granville, OH, 2/2016
  • Invited Keynote Speaker, Licking County Solar Conference, Newark, OH, 10/2015
  • Physics Department Seminar, Denison University, Granville, OH, 1/2015
  • American Chemical Society Meeting, Dallas, TA, 3/2014
  • Homestead Seminar, Denison University, Granville, OH, 3/2014
  • Inter-American Photochemical Society Meeting, Sarasota, FL, 1/2013
  • Global Studies Seminar, Denison University, Granville, OH, 9/2012
  • Denison Scientific Association, Denison University, Granville, OH, 11/2010
  • Invited Speaker, Geological Society of America Meeting, Portland, OR, 10/2010
  • Invited Speaker, American Chemical Society Meeting, San Francisco, CA, 3/2010
  • Invited Speaker, Reed College, Chemistry Department, Portland, OR, 9/2008
  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA, 7/2007
  • Materials Research Society Meeting, San Francisco, CA, 4/2007
  • NanoX Conference, Global School for Advanced Studies, Taipei, Taiwan, 9/2006