Jonah Erlebacher, a professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, is recognized for his advances in materials for energy technologies, computational materials science, and new methods for the manufacturing of nanostructured metals.
Erlebacher joined the faculty of the Whiting School in 2000 and also holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. He is most well-known for his contributions to dealloying as a processing tool and dealloyed materials as functional materials for a wide variety of applications. Dealloying – selective dissolution from a multi-component material – is ubiquitous today, with dozens of groups working on the problem internationally and multiple conference symposia devoted to this subject alone. Dealloying is no longer seen as primarily a corrosion problem to be avoided, but instead as a flexible and wide-ranging processing tool used to make bulk amounts of nanostructured (porous) materials for advanced catalysts, (bio)sensing, and energy technologies such as batteries, supercapacitors, and hydrogen fuel cells. The applications for this class of these materials is growing daily.
Erlebacher’s current research includes expanding our understanding of materials processing, using variations of dealloying to create ultra-high-strength nanocomposite metals that may survive extreme environments, and discovering next-generation fuel cell catalysts. In addition, his team is developing new chemistry to de-carburize natural gas, simultaneously generating hydrogen and high-value carbon materials from fossil fuels, without co-generation of greenhouse gasses.
Erlebacher holds six patents for processes encompassing the creation of nanoporous gold leaf, advanced fuel cell catalysts, and methane decomposition to hydrogen and solid carbon. He has also developed computer models to model the morphological evolution of nanostructured materials over time.
His numerous awards include the Johns Hopkins University Inaugural Gordon Croft Investment Faculty Scholar, the JHU William H. Huggins Excellence in Teaching Award, Whiting School of Engineering, and a 2001 National Science Foundation CAREER Faculty Young Investigator Award. Widely published, he co-authored Nanoporous Gold: From an Ancient Technology to a High-tech Material (Royal Society for Chemistry, 2012) and is a sought-after presenter at academic conferences, industry and government seminars around the world. He is a member of the Materials Research Society, the Electrochemical Society, TMS, the American Physical Society, and the American Association for Crystal Growth and Epitaxy. His current service activities include membership on the American Chemical Society Committee on the Petroleum Research Fund and meeting chair for the 2019 International Materials Research Congress in Cancun, Mexico. In addition to past service as associate editor of the Journal of the Electrochemical Society, he has led or co-led several conferences, among them the “Emerging Methods of Synthesis at all Length Scales,” for the Department of Energy’s 2016 Basic Research Needs Workshop on Synthesis, International Symposia on Nanoporosity Formation by Alloy Corrosion (2016 and 2017), and the 2009 Gordon Research Conference on Thin Film and Crystal Growth Mechanisms (chair).
Erlebacher holds a BS in physics and history of art, summa cum laude, from Yale University (1991), and a PhD in applied physics from Harvard University (1999).