Skip to main content

Ezra L. Cates

Ezra L CatesAssociate 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

Personal Homepage:

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) radiation-based water treatment processes; (2) photocatalytic treatment systems for perfluoroalkyl contaminants and design of photocatalysts; (3) point-of-use ultraviolet technologies for prevention of opportunistic respiratory pathogens; and (4) optimization of UVC LED reactors. 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 4840/6840 Municipal Solid Waste Management
EES 8030 Physiochemical Operations in Water and Wastewater Treatment Systems

Selected Publications

Loeb, S.K., Alvarez, P.J.J., Brame, J.A., Cates, E.L., Choi, W., Crittenden, J., Dionysiou, D.D., Li, Q., Li-Puma, G., Quan, X., Sedlak, D.L., David Waite, T., Westerhoff, P., Kim, J.-H., 2019. The Technology Horizon for Photocatalytic Water Treatment: Sunrise or Sunset? Environ. Sci. Technol. 53, 2937–2947. doi:10.1021/acs.est.8b05041

Hodges, B.C., Cates, E.L., Kim, J.-H., 2018. Challenges and prospects of advanced oxidation water treatment processes using catalytic nanomaterials. Nat. Nanotechnol. 13, 642–650. doi:10.1038/s41565-018-0216-x

Sahu, S.P., Qanbarzadeh, M., Ateia, M., Torkzadeh, H., Maroli, A.S., Cates, E.L., 2018. Rapid Degradation and Mineralization of Perfluorooctanoic Acid by a New Petitjeanite Bi 3 O(OH)(PO 4 ) 2 Microparticle Ultraviolet Photocatalyst. Environ. Sci. Technol. Lett. 5, 533–538. doi:10.1021/acs.estlett.8b00395

Hodges, B. C., E. L. Cates, J.H. Kim. 2018. "Challenges and prospects of advanced oxidation water treatment processes using catalytic nanomaterials." Nature Nanotechnology. 13(8): 642-650.

S.P. Sahu, M. Qanbarzadeh, M. Ateia, H. Torkzadeh, A.S. Maroli, E. L. Cates. 2018. “Rapid Degradation and Mineralization of Perfluorooctanoic Acid by a New Petitjeanite Bi3O(OH)(PO4)2 Microparticle Ultraviolet Photocatalyst.” Environmental Science & Technology Letters. 5 (8), 533-538.

Sahu, S.P., S.L. Cates, H.I. Kim, J.H. Kim, E.L. Cates. 2018. “The myth of visible light photocatalysis using lanthanide upconversion materials”. Environmental Science and Technology. 52(5) 2973-2980.

Sahu, S.P., E.L. Cates. 2017.  “Radiocatalytic Efficiency and Mechanisms of Bismuth Complex Oxides”. Journal of Physical Chemistry C. 121 (19) 10538–10545.

Cates, E.L. 2017. “Photocatalytic Water Treatment: So Where are We Going with This?” Environmental Science & Technology. (Viewpoint). 51(2): 757-758.

Johnson, T.A., E.A. Rehak, S.P. Sahu, D.A. Ladner, and E.L. Cates (Corresponding author). 2016. “Bacteria Inactivation via X-ray-Induced UVC Radioluminescence: Toward in Situ Biofouling Prevention in Membrane Modules." Environmental Science & Technology. 50(21): 11912-19921.

Cates, E. L. (Corresponding author) and F. Li. 2016. "Balancing intermediate state decay rates for efficient Pr3+ visible-to-UVC upconversion: the case of β-Y2Si2O7:Pr3+." RSC Advances. 6(27): 22791-22796.

Awards & Honors

2019 Outstanding presentation award, ACS National Meeting, PFAS symposoium, Division of Environmental Chemistry

2019 Early Career Award, EPA STAR

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)