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Nathan Lewis

Nathan S. Lewis is the George L. Argyros Professor of Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). He specializes in functionalization of silicon and other semiconductor surfaces, chemical sensing using chemiresistive sensor arrays, and alternative energy and artificial photosynthesis.

Nathan S. Lewis
Other names Nate Lewis
Residence U.S.
Nationality United States
Fields Chemistry
Institutions California Institute of Technology
Alma mater California Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Doctoral advisor Mark S. Wrighton
Notable awards ACS Award in Pure Chemistry
Spouse Carol R. Lewis[1]


Early life and education

Lewis obtained his B.S. and M.S. degrees at Caltech under Harry B. Gray in 1977 studying the redox reactions of inorganic rhodium complexes.[1][2] After that, he moved to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his Ph.D. in 1981 under Mark S. Wrighton studying semiconductor electrochemistry.[3]


External video
  “Powering the Planet: Where in the World Will Our Energy Come From?”, Nate Lewis, 2005, Caltech
  “Big Think Interview With Nate Lewis ”, Nate Lewis, 2012
  “Breaking the Wall of the Global Energy Challenge”, Nate Lewis, 2014

Lewis went to Stanford as an assistant professor from 1981 to 1985 and then as a tenured Associate Professor from 1986 to 1988, before returning to Caltech in 1988. He became a full professor at Caltech in 1991. In 1992, he became the Principal Investigator of the Molecular Materials Resource Center at the Beckman Institute at Caltech.[4]

His research interests include surface chemistry, particularly silicon surfaces and their photoelectrochemical performance. The study of electron transfer reactions, both at surfaces and in transition metal complexes, in response to light, has relevance for the creation of semiconductors and for artificial photosynthesis.[5] A major focus of his research is solar energy.[6][7][8][9] He is working on the development of components for a photoanode, photocathode, and ion-conducting membrane for a system for artificial photosynthesis that would use sunlight and water to produce hydrogen and oxygen.[10] He is also engaged in "big-picture" thinking about the science and policy issues affecting solar conversion.[6][7]

In addition, Lewis is involved in the creation and use of novel organic polymers[11] and the creation of sensor arrays and pattern recognition algorithms for an "electronic nose" that can be used for detection of explosives and diagnosis of illness.[6][1] The American Ceramic Society awarded him the 2003 Edward Orton, Jr. Memorial Lecture award for "An ‘Electronic Nose’ Based on Arrays of Conducting Polymer Composite Vapor Detectors".[12]

In July, 2010 Lewis was named as director of a U.S. Department of Energy Energy Innovation Hub, the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, to develop revolutionary methods to generate fuels directly from sunlight.[13][14][15] He has been appointed chair of the Editorial Board for Energy and Environmental Science.[4] He was #17 in the 2009 Rolling Stone list of Agents of Change.[16]



  1. ^ a b c Pici, Nick (February 10, 2013). "Determining Your Career Path: A Distinguished Chemist/Energy Scientist Weighs in". The National High School Journal of Science. Retrieved 11 April 2016. 
  2. ^ Mann, Kent R.; Lewis, Nathan S.; Williams, Roger M.; Gray, Harry B.; Gordon, J. G. (April 1978). "Further studies of metal-metal bonded oligomers of rhodium(I) isocyanide complexes. Crystal structure analysis of octakis(phenyl isocyanide)dirhodium bis(tetraphenylborate)". Inorganic Chemistry. 17 (4): 828–834. doi:10.1021/ic50182a008. Retrieved 11 April 2016. 
  3. ^ Saltiel, Jack (2001). "Photochemistry Becomes More Complex: A Symposium Honoring George S. Hammond On His 80th Birthday" (PDF). I-APS Newsletter. 24 (2): 5–9. Retrieved 11 April 2016. 
  4. ^ a b "Nate Lewis". Lewis Research Group. Retrieved 10 February 2016. 
  5. ^ "Silicon Surface Chemistry". Lewis Research Group. Retrieved 11 April 2016. 
  6. ^ a b c Lewis, Nathan (10 February 2005). "Scientific Challenges in Sustainable Energy Technology". PARC Forum. 
  7. ^ a b Lewis, Nathan S. (2011). Accelerating Solar Conversion Science (PDF). Research Corporation for Science Advancement. Retrieved 11 April 2016. 
  8. ^ Marshall, Jessica (4 June 2014). "Solar energy: Springtime for the artificial leaf". Nature. 510 (7503): 22–24. PMID 24899288. doi:10.1038/510022a. Retrieved 11 April 2016. 
  9. ^ Than, Ker (March 9, 2015). "One Step Closer to Artificial Photosynthesis and "Solar Fuels"". Caltech News and Events. Retrieved 11 April 2016. 
  10. ^ Lewis, Nathan. "Sunlight- Driven Hydrogen Formation by Membrane- Supported Photoelectrochemical Water Splitting" (PDF). Chemical Engineering Seminar Series. Retrieved 11 April 2016. 
  11. ^ Lewis, Nathan; Grubbs, Robert. "Novel Materials From Conjugated Polymers". Grantome. Retrieved 11 April 2016. 
  12. ^ a b "Edward Orton, Jr. Memorial Lecture History of Winners" (PDF). American Ceramic Society. Retrieved 11 April 2016. 
  13. ^ Weiner, Jon (July 21, 2010). "Caltech-led Team Gets up to $122 Million for Energy Innovation Hub". Caltech News and Events. Retrieved 11 April 2016. 
  14. ^ Yarris, Lynn (June 6, 2011). "Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis-North is Now Open". Berkeley Lab. Retrieved 11 April 2016. 
  15. ^ "Nate Lewis Leads US Energy Innovation Hub at Caltech". The Planning Report. David Abel, Publisher. August 7, 2013. Retrieved 11 April 2016. 
  16. ^ "100 Agents of Change". Musing for Amusement. March 30, 2009. 
  17. ^ "The National Fresenius Award". Northwestern University. Retrieved 11 April 2016. 
  18. ^ "ACS Award in Pure Chemistry". American Chemical Society. Retrieved 18 January 2014. 
  19. ^ "The Faraday Medal - Further Information". Royal Society of Chemistry. Retrieved 11 April 2016. 

External links