These are good days for the field of chemistry. With October 16-22 designated  National Chemistry Week by the American Chemistry Society, and 2011 declared the International Year of Chemistry, Gordon’s chemistry department is in good company with both its enthusiasm and research. And for Gordon’s newest member of the chemistry department, associate professor Joel Boyd, the United Nation’s emphasis on water purification is in line with his own work. Boyd’s research involves the photocatalytic purification of water. In this process, light is used to activate a photocatalyst, such as titanium dioxide, in order to remove or destroy organic, inorganic, and microbiological contaminants in water. Students working with Boyd have presented their research at conferences, published their work in peer-reviewed scientific journals, and even applied for two U.S. patents in recent years. Their research means turning inexpensive and ordinary materials available at the hardware store into water treatment technologies with possibilities for developing countries. Of his research he writes:

“Photocatalytic water purification has proven to be successful in the laboratory, but many obstacles oppose common applications in the field.  In order to leave the laboratory, existing materials must be refined in a number of ways.  Maximum photocatalytic activity requires nanoscale photocatalysts, which makes post-use removal of the photocatalyst problematic at best since such small particles are very difficult to filter out.  For this reason, various photocatalyst deposition techniques have been implemented to adhere the photocatalyst to larger materials.  Students in my research group devised one such approach to solvent deposit titania on polymeric support materials.  An ideal photocatalyst-support composite material would possess a long working lifetime, and have a large surface area for maximum activity . . . Fundamental investigation into the effect of crosslink density on both photocatalyst adhesion strength and photocatalytic stability is essential for ongoing development of photocatalyst-polymer composite materials, and is the subject of ongoing research by students in my research group at Gordon.”