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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

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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) 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

Bentel, M.J., Mason, M.M., Cates, E.L., 2023. Synthesis of Petitjeanite Bi3O(OH)(PO4)2 Photocatalytic Microparticles: Effect of Synthetic Conditions on the Crystal Structure and Activity toward Degradation of Aqueous Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA). ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 15, 20854–20864. doi:10.1021/ACSAMI.2C20483/ASSET/IMAGES/LARGE/AM2C20483_0008.JPEG

Bouteh, E., Bentel, M.J., Cates, E.L., 2023. Semiconductor-hydrophobic material interfaces as a new active site paradigm for photocatalytic degradation of perfluorocarboxylic acids. J. Hazard. Mater. 453, 131437. doi:10.1016/J.JHAZMAT.2023.131437

Qanbarzadeh, M., DiGiacomo, L., Bouteh, E., Alhamdan, E.Z., Mason, M.M., Wang, B., Wong, M.S., Cates, E.L., 2023. An Ultraviolet/Boron Nitride Photocatalytic Process Efficiently Degrades Poly-/Perfluoroalkyl Substances in Complex Water Matrices. Environ. Sci. Technol. Lett. 10, 705–710. doi:10.1021/ACS.ESTLETT.3C00363/ASSET/IMAGES/LARGE/EZ3C00363_0003.JPEG

Torkzadeh, H., Cates, E.L., 2021. Biofilm growth under continuous UVC irradiation: Quantitative effects of growth conditions and growth time on intensity response parameters. Water Res. 206, 117747. doi:10.1016/J.WATRES.2021.117747

Cates, E.L., Qanbarzadeh, M., Sahu, S.P., 2021. Comment on “Enhanced photocatalytic degradation of perfluorooctanoic acid using carbon-modified bismuth phosphate composite: Effectiveness, material synergy, and roles of carbon.” Chem. Eng. J. 404, 127060. doi:10.1016/J.CEJ.2020.127060

Torkzadeh, H., Zodrow, K.R., Bridges, W.C., Cates, E.L., 2021. Quantification and modeling of the response of surface biofilm growth to continuous low intensity UVC irradiation. Water Res. 193, 116895. doi:10.1016/J.WATRES.2021.116895

Yu, W., Chen, J., Ateia, M., Cates, E.L., Johnson, M.S., 2021. Do Gas Nanobubbles Enhance Aqueous Photocatalysis? Experiment and Analysis of Mechanism. Catal. 2021, Vol. 11, Page 511 11, 511. doi:10.3390/CATAL11040511

Qanbarzadeh, M., Wang, D., Ateia, M., Sahu, S.P., Cates, E.L., 2020. Impacts of Reactor Configuration, Degradation Mechanisms, and Water Matrices on Perfluorocarboxylic Acid Treatment Efficiency by the UV/Bi3O(OH)(PO4)2 Photocatalytic Process. ACS ES&T Eng. 1, 239–248. doi:10.1021/ACSESTENGG.0C00086

Cates, E.L., Torkzadeh, H., 2020. Can incorporation of UVC LEDs into showerheads prevent opportunistic respiratory pathogens? – Microbial behavior and device design considerations. Water Res. doi:10.1016/j.watres.2019.115163

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


Awards & Honors

2019 Outstanding Presentation Award, ACS National Meeting, PFAS symposium, 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)