Faculty Directory
Harold H. Kung

Walter P. Murphy Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering


2145 Sheridan Road
CAT 108
Evanston, IL 60208-3109

847-491-7492Email Harold Kung


Kung Research Group


Chemical and Biological Engineering

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Walter P. Murphy Professor, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

Dorothy Ann and Clarence L. Ver Steeg Distinguished Research Fellow, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

Post-doctoral Fellow, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

Ph.D. Chemistry, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

B.S. Chemical Engineering, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

Research Interests

Catalysis science, energy conversion and storage, catalytic water purification

Developing new materials and processes for a sustainable world is a challenging but rewarding goal. The current emphases of our research focus on novel catalytic materials and reactions that would facilitate and enhance environmentally friendly, energy- and material-efficient chemical processes, and on new materials that enable capturing waste energy or reduce waste energy in processing and manufacturing. 

Highly efficient catalysts minimize energy consumption and environmental impact by reducing waste generation and material consumption and simplifying process complexity. The ability to design such catalysts relies on our level of understanding of catalytic reactions and the available synthetic tools. Our prospect to achieve this is greatly improved by the recent rapid advances in synthesis capabilities, consequence of developments in nanotechnology, and in atomistic characterization of catalytic systems. They enable design and synthesis of catalytic materials that model after natural enzymes, which are among the most active and selective known catalysts.

Our group has been acquiring the skill set needed to introduce enzyme-like functionalities into nonbiological materials so as to capture the reactivity and reaction specificity of the enzymes without the constraint of sensitivity to processing conditions that they exhibit. Currently, we focus on the design and synthesis of catalytic materials that exhibit two unique properties of enzymes: cooperative effect in which two or more functional groups interact cooperatively to enhance the catalytic activity and specificity, and confinement effect which manifests the influence on the immediately surroundings on the properties of the active center. We have successfully completed the first synthesis of an asymmetric bicyclic siloxane, as well as spherical nanocages of siloxane and carbosilanes with interior functional groups and molecular size-selectivity for access to the cage interior. We have successfully synthesized the first heterogenized, Lewis acidic Sn-oxo unit that also produces Brønsted acidity upon adsorption of alcohol. We have demonstrated the importance of metal-support oxide interfacial perimeters sites in selective propane oxidation to acetone   Our current activity includes designing structures that anchor multiple functional groups to understand the conditions for cooperativity, and apply these structures to for highly selective catalytic reactions.

There are many different types of waste energy. One is small amplitude motions, such as vibration. Piezoelectric materials can convert motion into electricity, but the conversion efficiency is very low. We are exploring new types of materials for such purposes. Waste heat in process streams is another source of waste energy that can be minimized if degradation of heat exchanger surfaces can be prevented. We are examining how chemical properties and morphology of heat exchange surfaces affect scaling and biofouling.

Selected Publications

  • Marcu, Ioan Cezar; Kung, Harold, “Oxide-based Materials for Sustainable Catalytic Processes” – A special issue honoring Jean-Marc M. Millet, Applied Catalysis A: General (2023).
  • Peng, Anyang; Rosen, Andrew S.; Snurr, Randall Q.; Kung, Harold H., Effect of Composition and Local Environment on CO2Adsorption on Nickel and Magnesium Oxide Solid Solutions, Journal of Physical Chemistry C (2022).
  • Ding, Jie; Tang, Qingli; Fu, Yanghe; Zhang, Yulong; Hu, Juanmin; Li, Tong; Zhong, Qin; Fan, Maohong; Kung, Harold H., Core-Shell Covalently Linked Graphitic Carbon Nitride-Melamine-Resorcinol-Formaldehyde Microsphere Polymers for Efficient Photocatalytic CO2Reduction to Methanol, Journal of the American Chemical Society (2022).
  • Barry, Edward; Burns, Raelyn; Chen, Wei; De Hoe, Guilhem X.; De Oca, Joan Manuel Montes; De Pablo, Juan J.; Dombrowski, James; Elam, Jeffrey W.; Felts, Alanna M.; Galli, Giulia; Hack, John; He, Qiming; He, Xiang; Hoenig, Eli; Iscen, Aysenur; Kash, Benjamin; Kung, Harold H.; Lewis, Nicholas H.C.; Liu, Chong; Ma, Xinyou; Mane, Anil; Martinson, Alex B.F.; Mulfort, Karen L.; Murphy, Julia; Mølhave, Kristian; Nealey, Paul; Qiao, Yijun; Rozyyev, Vepa; Schatz, George C.; Sibener, Steven J.; Talapin, Dmitri; Tiede, David M.; Tirrell, Matthew V.; Tokmakoff, Andrei; Voth, Gregory A.; Wang, Zhongyang; Ye, Zifan; Yesibolati, Murat; Zaluzec, Nestor J.; Darling, Seth B., Advanced Materials for Energy-Water Systems, Chemical Reviews 121(15):9450-9501 (2021).
  • Hack, John H.; Dombrowski, James P.; Ma, Xinyou; Chen, Yaxin; Lewis, Nicholas H.C.; Carpenter, William B.; Li, Chenghan; Voth, Gregory A.; Kung, Harold H.; Tokmakoff, Andrei, Structural Characterization of Protonated Water Clusters Confined in HZSM-5 Zeolites, Journal of the American Chemical Society 143(27):10203-10213 (2021).
  • Ding, Jie; Huang, Liang; Ji, Guojing; Zeng, Yuewu; Chen, Zhaoxu; Eddings, Eric G.; Fan, Maohong; Zhong, Qin; Kung, Harold H., Modification of catalytic properties of Hollandite manganese oxide by Ag intercalation for oxidative acetalization of ethanol to diethoxyethane, ACS Catalysis 11(9):5347-5357 (2021).
  • Lercher, Johannes; Kung, Harold; Nam, In Sik; Lucques, Rafael; Spivey, James, Living and acting scholarly in interesting times, Journal of Catalysis (2020).
  • Peng, Anyang; Kung, Mayfair C.; Ross, Matthew O.; Hoffman, Brian M.; Kung, Harold H., The Role of Co-ZSM-5 Catalysts in Aerobic Oxidation of Ethylbenzene, Topics in Catalysis 63(19-20):1708-1716 (2020).