Graduate & Professional Studies

Stories of Graduate Student Success: Nicholas Langer, doctoral student in the Department of Chemistry

Nicholas Langer is a current doctoral student in the Department of Chemistry who was recently awarded the Richard W. Jobling Distinguished Research Assistantship. The award is made possible through a generous donation to Marquette University to encourage and support research activity by doctoral students in the fields of science and engineering.

Langer’s research focuses on two major classes of nanomaterials: quantum dots (QDs, the same material for which the 2023 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded) and gold nanoparticles (Au NPs). Due to the small size of the nanomaterials (smaller than the wavelength of visible light), the materials have fascinating light absorbing properties that lead to their widespread use in LED displays, biomedical imaging, sensors, electronic devices and much more.

Nanomaterials are typically coated in other organic molecules to increase their stability and impart functionality. Langer’s research in the Kedem lab aims to understand the degree and nature of effect these molecular coatings have on the behavior of nanomaterials with respect to their catalytic activity as well as their ability to form ordered patterns on surfaces. He discovered a polymer coating for Au NPs that doubles their performance, showing that ligand design is a promising approach to the development of more efficient NP catalysts.

Langer has presented his work at the American Chemical Society’s fall 2022 and 2023 meetings, at various field-specific conferences, Marquette’s Celebration of Research and Forward Thinking symposia, as well as the 2024 Catalysis Club of Chicago’s Young Scientist Symposium.

When Langer isn’t researching, he enjoys exploring Milwaukee’s various districts and visiting Wisconsin’s state parks.

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