Richard M Crooks

Department of Chemistry

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

Phone: 512-475-8674

Office Location
WEL 3.210AA

Postal Address
The University of Texas at Austin
Department of Chemistry, College of Natural Sciences
105 East 24th Street
Stop A5300
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

J. C. Cunningham; M. R. Kogan; Y.-J. Tsai; L. Luo; I. Richards: R. M. Crooks  "Paper-based Sensor for Electrochemical Detection of Silver Nanoparticle Labels by Galvanic Exchange" ACS Sensors 2016 (published on the ACS website, DOI: 10.1021/ acssensors.5b00051).    
X. Li; L. Luo; R. M. Crooks  "Low-Voltage Paper Isotachophoresis Device for DNA Focusing" Lab Chip 201515, 4090-4098 (DOI: 10.1039/c5lc00875a).
J. J. Yoo; J. Kim; R. M. Crooks  "Direct Electrochemical Detection of Individual Collisions between Magnetic Microbead/Silver Nanoparticle Conjugates and a Magnetized Ultramicroelectrode" Chem. Sci. 20156, 6665-6671 (DOI: 10.1039/c5sc02259b).    
L. Luo; L. Zhang; G. Henkelman; R. M. Crooks  "Unusual electrocatalytic activity trend for PdxAu140-x@Pt core@shell nanoparticles for adsorbed CO oxidation"  J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 20156, 2562-2568 (DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpclett.5b00985).
R. M. Anderson; D. F. Yancey; L. Zhang; S. T. Chill; G. Henkelman; R. M. Crooks "A Theoretical and Experimental Approach for Correlating Nanoparticle Structure and Electrocatalytic Activity" Acc. Chem. Res. 201548, 1351-1357 (DOI: 10.1021/acs.accounts.5b00125).


  • 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