Professor Gwathmey and Surface Science at the University of Virginia:  

Professor Gwathmey developed and championed the use of large spherical single crystal metal surfaces in studies of catalysis and corrosion beginning in the late 1930’s. He was amongst the first to demonstrate that rates of surface processes such as oxidation, catalysis, corrosion, and crystal growth can vary markedly with the particular crystallographic plane of the exposed surface. To this day, catalyst companies use these principles and design their processing of bulk catalysts to expose certain preferred crystallographic planes of the active metal clusters for use in "structure sensitive" surface reactions. Prof. Gwathmey’s interest in surface processes was wide ranging and he encouraged the recruitment of Professors John Mitchell and Nicholas Cabrera to the Physics department in the 1950’s. Prof. Mitchell is responsible for the currently accepted theory of the silver halide photographic process under whose guidance the photographic film companies (particularly Fuji Film) have flourished. Prof. Cabrera is renowned for his many theories and experiments in crystal growth and the Mott-Cabrera theory of surface oxidation. These three gentleman established a fine tradition and high standards for Surface Science at the University. Today, the importance and relevance of Surface Science to many scientific disciplines and emerging technologies is broadly recognized across the University. The Gwathmey Initiative is dedicated to the promotion and exploration of interdisciplinary aspects of Surface Science, throughout the University Schools of Arts & Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Biography: Allan Talbot Gwathmey - Scientist, Scholar, Gentleman