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University of Delaware Tenure Track Faculty



John T. Newberg
Assistant Professor
University of Delaware
472 ISE Lab
Newark, DE 19716
(302) 831-7574


‚ÄčB.A., 1998, University of California (UC) Berkeley; M.S., 2003, UC Davis; M.S., 2003 UC Irvine; Ph.D., 2005, UC Irvine; Senior Engineer, 2005-2007, Intel Corp.; Postdoctoral Fellow, 2007-2010, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL), NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, 2010-2012, LBNL.

Current Research

We are a multidisciplinary surface chemistry research group tackling problems on a molecular level in energy and environmental sciences. Students in our group are exposed to UHV surface science and work on interfacial chemistry related problems involving one or more of the following: metal oxide interfaces, catalysis, photocatalysis, electrochemical interfaces, ionic liquid interfaces, surface chemistry of atmospheric aerosol particles, and the chemistry of ice. Our group utilizes surface spectroscopy, surface microscopy, and molecular simulations to tackle interfacial chemistry questions on a molecular level.

It is becoming increasingly recognized that understanding surface chemical transformations on a molecular level in operando (under working conditions) is critically important to advancements in energy and environmental sciences, giving rise to a new generation of in situ probing techniques. Our laboratory recently came online with a state-of-the art lab-based ambient pressure X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy setup to probe solids and liquids in the presence of a gas phase. Our group also conducts synchrotron-based X-ray spectroscopy research at DOE National research facilities.

The interaction of water with surfaces plays an important role in materials science, catalysis, fuel cells, corrosion, mineral weathering, and environmental chemistry. Many surfaces under ambient conditions are coated with a thin water film. The thickness of molecularly bound water ranges from submonolayer coverage to a few nanometers in thickness depending on the surrounding relative humidity. The efficacy for water adsorption and dissociation at interfaces depends on the surrounding humidity, surface chemistry, and interfacial morphology. A major focus of our research is to understand water on a molecular level. Many interfacial reactions in energy and environmental research involve (sometimes unintentionally) surface reactions of water which can significantly enhance or inhibit surface chemical transformations.

Representative Publications

  • J.T. Newberg, "Surface thermodynamics and kinetics of MgO(100) terrace site hydroxylation," J. Phys. Chem. C, (2014) 118, 29187.
  • A. Shavorskiy, K. Muller, J.T. Newberg, D.E. Starr, H. Bluhm, "Hydroxylation of ultrathin Al2O3/NiAl(110) films at environmental humidity," J. Phys. Chem. C, (2014) 118, 29340.
  • S. Kaya, D. Schlesinger, S. Yamamoto, J.T. Newberg, H. Bluhm, H. Ogasawara, T. Kendelewicz, G.E. Brown, Jr., L. Pettersson, A. Nilsson, "Highly compressed two-dimensional form of water at ambient conditions," Nat. Sci. Rep., (2013) 3, 1074.
  • P. Jiang, D. Prendergast, F. Borondics, S. Porsgaard, L. Giovanetti, E. Pach, J.T. Newberg, H. Bluhm, F. Besenbacher, M.B. Salmeron, "Experimental and theoretical investigation of the electronic structure of Cu2O and CuO thin films on Cu(110) using X-ray photoelectron and absorption spectroscopy," J. Chem. Phys., (2013) 138, 024704.
  • J.T. Newberg, D.E. Starr, S. Yamamoto, S. Kaya, T. Kendelewicz, E.R. Mysak, S. Porsgaard, M.B. Salmeron, G.E. Brown, Jr., A. Nilsson, H. Bluhm, "Autocatalytic surface hydroxylation of MgO(100) terrace sites observed under ambient conditions," J. Phys. Chem. C, (2011) 115, 12864.
  • D.E. Starr, D. Pan, J.T. Newberg, M. Ammann, E.G. Wang, A. Michaelides, H. Bluhm, "Acetone adsorption on ice investigated by X-ray spectroscopy and density functional theory," Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., (2011) 13, 19988.
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  • Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • 102 Brown Laboratory
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-1247