Chaitanya Narula is a Distinguished Research Staff and Group Leader for the Physical Chemistry of Materials (PCM) group in the Materials Science & Technology Division at ORNL. The PCM group conducts research on the synthesis, structure, reactivity of catalyst materials, inorganic membrane technology, energy storage devices, thermoelectrics, and alternative feedstock. Basic and applied research is conducted under the sponsorship of the Department of Energy, other federal agencies, and private corporations. The research group consists of multi-disciplinary permanent staff, postdoctoral associates, and guests on short-term assignments (e.g. university faculty, graduate and undergraduate students).
Selected current research themes include:
- Catalyst by design – combining theory and experiments to better forecast catalyst property. The focus of research is on emission treatment catalysts such as three-way catalyst, oxidation catalyst, lean NOx traps, Urea-SCR
- Gold catalysis – control of the size of nanoparticles by sputtering and fundamental studies of these particles
- Inorganic membrane technology with unique ability to control pore sizes and tremendous flexibility in selection of materials. Research is focused on gas and liquid separations.
- Energy storage devices including batteries and cpacitors
- Thermoelectric materials with a view to improve ZT and develop synthetic routes that can be employed in assembly line manufacturing environment for waste heat recovery from automotive exhaust pipes.
- Converting Lignins, chemically and catalytically, to useful raw materials for polymers that can replace the existing petroleum derived raw materials.