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Ezra L. Cates

Ezra L CatesAssistant Professor
Rich Lab, 342 Computer Court
Anderson, SC 29625-6510

Ph.D. Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2013
B.S. Environmental Studies, University of North Carolina - Asheville, 2007

Classes | Publications | Honors | CV

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Faculty Overview

Dr. Cates’ research focuses on the development of advanced materials for environmental technology and public health applications, with an emphasis on optical materials and photocatalysts. The main achievement of his Ph.D. and postdoctoral work was in pioneering the field of visible-to-UVC upconversion phosphors – inorganic luminescent materials that are capable of converting ordinary visible light into germicidal ultraviolet radiation. He has contributed to fundamental advances in the design and understanding of light conversion by Pr3+-doped crystals and developed proof-of-concept material systems for applying upconversion to sustainable light-activated antimicrobial surfaces.

His current research interests include: (1) fundamental phosphor development for improving the efficiency of visible-to-UV upconversion; (2) applications of UV-radioluminescent materials to environmental technologies; (3) microbial inhibition and singlet oxygen photosensitization by silicon nanocrystals; and (4) material technologies for enhancing solar water disinfection for the developing world. This research integrates environmental engineering with materials science and physical chemistry. Students in the Cates Lab will utilize solid state synthesis methods, laser spectroscopy, wet chemical experiments, microbial enumeration, and crystallography.

Class Information

For current syllabi, please search the Clemson University Syllabus Repository.

EES 4010/6010 Environmental Engineering
EES 8030 Physiochemical Operations in Water and Wastewater Treatment Systems
EES 8050 Physicochemical Operations Laboratory
EES 8610 Environmental Engineering and Science Seminar

Selected Publications

Sahu, S.P., Cates, S.L., Kim, H.-I., Kim, J.-H., Cates, E.L., 2018. The Myth of Visible Light Photocatalysis Using Lanthanide Upconversion Materials. Environ. Sci. Technol. 52, 2973–2980. doi:10.1021/acs.est.7b05941

Cates, E.L., 2017. Photocatalytic Water Treatment: So Where Are We Going with This? Environ. Sci. Technol. 51, 757–758. doi:10.1021/acs.est.6b06035

Sahu, S.P., Cates, E.L., 2017. X-ray Radiocatalytic Activity and Mechanisms of Bismuth Complex Oxides. J. Phys. Chem. C 121, 10538–10545. doi:10.1021/acs.jpcc.7b00776

Cates, E.L., Li, F., 2016. Balancing intermediate state decay rates for efficient Pr3+ visible-to-UVC upconversion: The case of β-Y2Si2O7:Pr3+. RSC Adv. 6, 22791–22796. doi:10.1039/c6ra01121g

Johnson, T.A., Rehak, E.A., Sahu, S.P., Ladner, D.A., Cates, E.L., 2016. Bacteria Inactivation via X-ray-Induced UVC Radioluminescence: Toward in Situ Biofouling Prevention in Membrane Modules. Environ. Sci. Technol. 50, 11912–11921. doi:10.1021/acs.est.6b04239

Moor, K.J., Cates, E.L., Kim, J.H., 2016. Porous Silicons Photoactivity in Water: Insights into Environmental Fate. Environ. Sci. Technol. 50, 756–764. doi:10.1021/acs.est.5b05183

Cates, E.L., Kim, J.H., 2015. Bench-scale evaluation of water disinfection by visible-to-UVC upconversion under high-intensity irradiation. J. Photochem. Photobiol. B Biol. 153, 405–411. doi:10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2015.10.021

Cates, E.L., Wilkinson, A.P., Kim, J.H., 2015. Visible-to-UVC upconversion efficiency and mechanisms of Lu7O6F9:Pr3+ and Y2SiO5:Pr3+ ceramics. J. Lumin. 160, 202–209. doi:10.1016/j.jlumin.2014.11.049

Cates, E.L., 2015. Comment on “Intimate Coupling of Photocatalysis and Biodegradation for Degrading Phenol Using Different Light Types: Visible Light vs UV Light.” Environ. Sci. Technol. 49, 13075–13076. doi:10.1021/acs.est.5b03105

Park, G.W., Cho, M., Cates, E.L., Lee, D., Oh, B.T., Vinjé, J., Kim, J.H., 2014. Fluorinated TiO2as an ambient light-activated virucidal surface coating material for the control of human norovirus. J. Photochem. Photobiol. B Biol. 140, 315–320. doi:10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2014.08.009

Awards & Honors

2013 Best Student Paper, ACS National Meeting, Division of Environmental Chemistry (coauthor)

2011 Best Environmental Technology Article of 2011, Environmental Science & Technology (first author)

2011 Best presentation, Georgia Tech Environmental Engineering Research Internship Program (awarded to high school student mentees)

2010 Best Student Paper, ACS National Meeting, Division of Environmental Chemistry (first author)

2008 Georgia Power Fellowship in Environmental Engineering

2007 Environmental Studies Departmental Distinction (UNC-A)

2007 University Research Scholar (UNC-A)

2006 Environmental Quality Institute Research Assistantship (UNC-A)

2005 North Carolina Beautiful Fellowship in Pollution Control