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Richard M Crooks

Department of Chemistry

The Robert A. Welch Chair in Chemistry (Materials Chemistry)


Phone: 512-475-8674

Office Location
NHB 5.112A

Postal Address
100 E 24TH ST
AUSTIN, TX 78712

B.S., University of Illinois (1981)
Ph.D., University of Texas (1987)
Postdoctoral Fellow, MIT (1987-1989)


Bioanalytical Chemistry, Nanochemistry, and Electrochemistry

The group's focus is on developing the basic science and technology that will lead to a cleaner planet and a healthier life for its inhabitants. Underpinning this basic philosophy are our core competencies in electrochemistry, catalysis, nanomaterials, and biological and chemical microsensors.  For example, we are interested in learning how the physical and chemical properties of catalysts affect their selectivity and efficiency. Nanoscale catalysts in the 1-3 nm size range are of particular interest, because very slight changes to materials in this size range can dramatically affect their catalytic properties. Accordingly, we use a versatile, template-based method, discovered by our group, to synthesize metal nanoparticles that have remarkable uniformity in size, composition, and structure. One important lesson we have learned during the course of these studies is that there are not many good analytical methods for studying the characteristics and properties of nanoparticles smaller than about 3 nm, and therefore we also invent and modify analytical methods to suit our needs.  Our nanoparticle catalysis work is guided by theoretical calculations thanks to a long-standing collaboration with the Henkelman group here at UT. The Crooks group also has a long-standing interest in chemical and biological sensors.  Over the past 2-3 years we have directed this activity toward the development of ultra-low cost sensors (<$1), primarily for medical applications in both the developed and developing world.  In most cases these sensors are constructed of paper, fabricated by origami, and the result of the assay detected using electrochemical methods.  New principles and analytical methods are required to keep the cost of these devices low and the detection limits appropriate for a particular application.  Finally, we have developed a new electrochemical method for desalinating salt water that is highly energy efficient.  We have a basic understanding of the phenomena responsible its effectiveness but are still studying the fundamental principles of the method.  At the same time we are working with a small company to commercialize the desalination technology.

Representative Publications

A. D. Castañeda; N. J. Brenes; A. Kondajji; R. M. Crooks  "Detection of microRNA by Electrocatalytic Amplification: a General Approach for Single-Particle Biosensing" J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017139, 7657-7664 (DOI: 10.1021/jacs.7b03648).

L. Luo; Z. Duan; H. Li; J. Kim; G. Henkelman; R. M. Crooks  "Tunability of Adsorbate Binding on Bimetallic Alloy Nanoparticles for Optimization of Catalytic Hydrogenation" J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017139, 5538-5546 (DOI: 10.1021/jacs.7b01653).

X. Li; L. Luo; R. M. Crooks"Faradaic Ion Concentration Polarization on a Paper Fluidic Platform" Anal. Chem. 2017, 89, 4294-4300 (DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.7b00365).

N. Ostojic; R. M. Crooks "Electrocatalytic Reduction of Oxygen on Platinum Nanoparticles in the Presence and Absence of Interactions with the Electrode Surface" Langmuir 201632, 9727-9735 (DOI: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.6b02578).

L. Luo; L. Zhang; Z. Duan; A. S. Lapp; G. Henkelman; R. M. Crooks"Efficient CO Oxidation using Dendrimer-Encapsulated Pt Nanoparticles Activated with <2% Cu Surface Atoms" ACS Nano 201610, 8760-8769 (DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.6b04448).


  • Executive Editor, Langmuir, 2015
  • Faraday Medal of the Royal Society of Chemistry, 2015
  • Pittsburgh Analytical Chemistry Award, 2014
  • World Technology Award (Environment Category), Finalist, 2013
  • Charles N. Reilley Award in Electroanalytical Chemistry, 2010
  • Robert A. Welch Chair in Materials Chemistry, 2009-Present
  • ACS Award in Electrochemistry, 2008
  • Carl Wagner Memorial Award of the Electrochemical Society, 2003