Office: Abbott Hall Room 236 & 224A
Lab: Abbott Hall Room 406
Dr. David T. Pierce
Professor & ChairB.S., 1985, McGill University; Ph.D., 1991, University of Vermont; Postdoctoral Research Fellow, 1991-1992, University of Texas.
Analytical chemistry and electrochemistry
Research in my laboratory has always engaged a variety of electrochemical and microchemical techniques to either study complex reactions or develop new methods of analysis. Some of the projects completed in recent years, and described below, include methods to determine ultra-trace levels of selenium in surface water and aggregate levels of petroleum hydrocarbons in contaminated ground water. More recently, collaborations with the group of Dr. Julia Xiaojun Zhao have allowed us to integrate new types of nanomaterials as catalysts for energy conversion and reagents for trace analysis. Some of our shared projects, also described below, include the development of Pt-Ru nanocatalysts for oxidation of methanol and magnetic nanoparticles for the trace determination of toxic metals.
Ultra-trace determination of selenium without signal calibration. To more easily evaluate the complex environmental fate of selenium, we developed a flow-through electrochemical method that can accurately determine SeIV concentrations in water samples to part-per-trillion levels (Anal. Chem. 2007). We were able to achieve such outstanding performance by combining a very sensitive electrochemical stripping method with a highly efficient flow-through cell. Overall, our method had comparable performance to hydride-generation atomic absorption spectrometry but with far less cumbersome equipment and —a very rare characteristic—freedom from calibration.
A microbalance sensor for petroleum hydrocarbons (PH) in ground water. To track ground water contamination associated with leaking fuel storage containers, we developed a sensor that can be used in the field to determine PHs down to sub-parts-per-million levels (Environ. Sci. Technol. 2004).
The basis of this sensor was an unusual frequency response of oscillating quartz crystals when coated with rubbery silicone films. The films adsorbed PHs and produced a response that depended linearly and reliably on the aggregate concentration of dissolved hydrocarbons.
Pt-Ru nanocatalysts for oxidation of methanol. Recently we developed a simple method to prepare silica-supported Pt and bimetallic Pt-Ru nanocatalysts (J. Colloid Interface Sci. 2010). Using amine-functionalized silica nanoparticles as both template and support for the formation of metal nanoclusters, we were able to produce electrochemical catalysts with precise composition and narrow size distribution.
Measurements with electrochemical techniques such as impedance spectroscopy demonstrated higher catalytic activity for methanol oxidation and lower carbon monoxide poisoning when the nanocatalysts were compared with a commercial catalysts used in fuel cell applications.
Magnetic nanoparticles for ultra-trace determination of toxic metal ions. We have also developed a new type of magnetic silica nanomaterial sorbent that can be used to efficiently extract ultra-trace levels toxic metal ions for analysis. These amphiphilic nanoparticles have two types of surface functional groups—carboxylic acid and aliphatic groups—that simultaneously control magnetic moment and sorption properties.
When combined with highly sensitive analysis techniques such as anodic stripping voltammetry, the nanoparticles can be used to determine ultra-trace quantities of toxic metals in environmental waters.
Hatfield, T. L.; Staples, R. J.; Pierce, D. T., Structure change associated with the [MII/III 1,4,7-triazacyclononane-N,N’,N’’-triacetate (TCTA)]-/0 electron transfers (M = Mn, Fe, and Ni). Crystal structure for [FeII(H2O)6][FeII(TCTA)]2. Inorg. Chem. 2010, 49, 9312-9320.
Li, A.; Zhao, J. X.; Pierce, D. T., Silica nanoparticles for template synthesis of supported Pt and Pt-Ru electrocatalysts. J. Colloid Interface Sci. 2010, 352, 365-373.
Pierce, D. T.; Zhao, X. J. (Eds), Trace Analysis with Nanomaterials. Wiley-VCH: Weinheim, Germany, 2010 (ISBN: 978-3-527-32350-0); 396 pages.
Hazelton, S. G.; Zheng, X.; Zhao, J. X.; Pierce, D. T., Developments and applications of electrogenerated chemiluminescence sensors based on micro- and nanomaterials. Sensors 2008, 8, 5942-5960.
Pierce, D. T.; Pierce, T. W., Effective use of demonstration assessments in the classroom relative to laboratory topics. J. Chem. Educ. 2007, 84, 1150-1155.
Hazelton, S. G.; Pierce, D. T., Ultratrace determination of inorganic selenium without signal calibration. Anal. Chem. 2007, 79, 4558-4563. [Article featured in AC News “Selenium sensing sans calibration” by Jeffrey M. Perkel, Anal. Chem. 2007, 79, 4747.]
Applebee, M. S.; Geissler, J. D.; Schellinger, A. P.; Jaeger, R. J.; Pierce, D. T., Field Screening of waterborne petroleum hydrocarbons by thickness shear-mode resonator measurements. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2004, 38, 234-239.