Howard Fairbrother

Research and Professional Interests

Dr. Fairbrother’s research interests are focused on understanding interfacial phenomena in environmental processes, often through detailed surface analysis. His work has included studies on the effect that surface chemistry has on the environmentally relevant properties of carbon based materials, including carbon nanotubes (CNTs). Recently he has extended the scope of his research activities to the life-cycle analysis of solid phase CNT materials, such as polymer nanocomposites modified by CNTs, which are increasingly prevalent as commercial products. In related work he is also working on applying cutting edge deposition techniques such as atomic layer deposition to create advanced water treatment systems capable of remediating both existing and emerging contaminants. Dr. Fairbrother is a recipient of a Career award from the National Science Foundation in 2000 and was elected as an ACS Fellow in 2011. He has recently been appointed as a senior editor for the Journal of Physical Chemistry. A full description of his research activities can be found at:

Selected Publications:

  • Bitter, J. L.; Yang, J.; Milani, S. B.; Jafvert, C. T.; Fairbrother, D. H., Transformations of oxidized multiwalled carbon nanotubes exposed to UVC (254 nm) irradiation. Environmental Science: Nano 2014, (1), 324-337.
  • Bitter, J. L.; Duncan, G. A.; Beltran-Villegas, D. J.; Fairbrother, D. H.; Bevan, M. A., Anomalous Silica Colloid Stability and Gel Layer Mediated Interactions. Langmuir 2013, 29, 8835-9944.
  • Gallagher, M. J.; Huang, H.; Schwab, K. J.; Fairbrother, D. H.; Teychene, B., Generating Backwashable Carbon Nanotube Mats on the Inner Surface of Polymeric Hollow Fiber Membranes. J. Membr. Sci. 2013, 446, 59-67.
  • Reed, R. B.; Goodwin, D. G.; Marsh, K. L.; Capracotta, S. S.; Higgins, C. P.; Fairbrother, D. H.; Ranville, J. F., Detection of Single Walled Carbon Nanotubes by Monitoring Embedded Metals Environ. Sci: Processes Impacts 2013, 15, 204-213.
  • Tang, L.; Gu, W.; Yi, P.; Bitter, J. L.; Hong, J. Y.; Fairbrother, D. H.; Chen, K. L., Bacterial Anti-adhesive Properties of Polysulfone Membranes Modified with Polyelectrolyte Multilayers. J. Membr. Sci. 2013, 446, 201-211.
  • Ajmani, G. S.; Goodwin, D.; Marsh, K.; Fairbrother, D. H.; Schwab, K. J.; Jacangelo, J. G.; Huang, H., Modification of low pressure membranes with carbon nanotube layers for fouling control. Water Research 2012, 46, 5645-5654.
  • Gorham, J. M.; MacCuspie, R. I.; Klein, K. L.; Fairbrother, D. H.; Holbrook, R. D., UV-induced photochemical transformations of citrate-capped silver nanoparticle suspensions. Journal of Nanoparticle Research 2012, 14, 1139.
  • Smith, B.; Yang, J.; Bitter, J.; Ball, W. P.; Fairbrother, D. H., Influence of Surface Oxygen on the Interactions of Carbon Nanotubes with Natural Organic Matter. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2012, 46, 12839-12847.
  • Chen, K. L.; Smith, B. A.; Ball, W. P.; Fairbrother, D. H., Assessing the colloidal properties of engineered nanoparticles in water: case studies from fullerene C60 nanoparticles and carbon nanotubes. Environ. Chem. 2010, 7, (1), 10-27.
  • Cho, H.-H.; Wepasnick, K.; Smith, B. A.; Bangash, F. K.; Fairbrother, D. H.; Ball, W. P., Sorption of Aqueous Zn[II] and Cd[II] by Multiwall Carbon Nanotubes: The Relative Roles of Oxygen-Containing Functional Groups and Graphenic Carbon. Langmuir 2010, 26, (2), 967-981.
  • Hou, W.-C.; Kong, L.; Wepasnick, K. A.; Zepp, R. G.; Fairbrother, D. H.; Jafvert, C. T., Photochemistry of Aqueous C60 Clusters: Wavelength Dependency and Product Characterization. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2010, 44, (21), 8121-8127.
  • Smith, B.; Wepasnick, K.; Schrote, K. E.; Bertele, A. R.; Ball, W. P.; O'Melia, C.; Fairbrother, D. H., Colloidal Properties of Aqueous Suspensions of Acid-Treated, Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2009, 43, (3), 819-825.
  • Smith, B.; Wepasnick, K.; Schrote, K. E.; Cho, H.-H.; Ball, W. P.; Fairbrother, D. H., Influence of Surface Oxides on the Colloidal Stability of Multi-walled Carbon Nanotubes: A Structure-Property Relationship Langmuir 2009, 25, (17), 9767-9776.
  • Cho, H.-H.; Smith, B. A.; Wnuk, J. D.; Fairbrother, D. H.; Ball, W. P., Influence of Surface Oxides on the Adsorption of Naphthalene onto Multiwalled Carbon Nanotubes. Environmental Science & Technology 2008, 42, (8), 2899-2905.

Research Tools:

X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (also used in conjunction with chemical derivatization), UV-Vis, Infrared Spectroscopy

Themes Categories:

Water and Health
Water in the Environment
Water Infrastructure

People Categories:

Steering Committee


Howard Fairbrother, surface chemistry, organometallic precursor