Joseph Bennett

Contact Information
Office: MEYR 243A
Phone: 410-455-3025


Assistant Professor

Research Specialist, University of Iowa 2016-2019
Postdoc, Rutgers University 2010-2012
Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania 2003-2009
B.S. Drexel University 1998-2003

Professional Interests

Our research is aimed to solve one of the grand challenges in modern chemistry: how to discover and design new functional materials that can be integrated into industrial importance devices, or serve as the basis for innovative new types of transformative technologies. We use techniques common to computational chemistry and informatics to provide new functional materials to address societal issues like energy independence and environmental sustainability; by combining rational chemical design, database mining, and first-principles calculations we can survey the properties of known and as yet to be synthesized families of solids. This helps us to gauge which known materials would benefit from a more thorough re-examination and which unknown materials would make exceptional candidates for synthesis and characterization. This approach relies heavily on concepts borrowed from inorganic chemistry, where the interplay of ionic radii, spin/oxidation state, and coordination environment help guide us towards exploring nature’s missing materials.

We use DFT methods to create structure-property relationships of a wide variety of materials classes such as metals, semiconductors, oxides, chalcogenides, nitrides, carbides, pnictides, and intermetallics to name a few, and connect the results of our calculations to available experimental data. Most of our projects are focused on determining what happens to both bulk and surface properties as the chemical environment is changed. For example, materials will behave differently in vacuum than they will in water, and they’ll go on to behave even more differently in the presence of an electrolyte! But what about replacing ions in a solid material? Substituting S2- for O2- in a complex metal oxide such as a perovskite doesn’t drastically change the overall oxidation states of the metals, but it will change the bond lengths, the size of the unit cell and the degree of electron sharing, which can all be computed with DFT.

Selected Publications:

C. S. Chari, J. E. Heimann, Z. Rosenzweig, J. W. Bennett, K. T. Faber, “Chemical Transformations of 2D Kaolinic Clay Mineral Surfaces from Sulfuric Acid Exposure”, Langmuir, 2023 (39) 6964-6974

J. E. Heimann, Z. Rosenzweig, and J. W. Bennett, “Understanding the Effects of Amine and Morpholine Adsorption on Unglazed Earthenware Using Density Functional Theory”, J. Cult. Herit., 2023 (61) 168-176

M. Layegh and J. W. Bennett, “Density Functional Theory Combined with Thermodynamics Exploration of Novel 2D Materials Created Using Aqueous Exfoliation”, J. Phys. Chem. C., 2023 (127) 2314-2325 *Special Issue Highlighting Early Career and Emerging Researchers”

R. T. Grimes and J. W. Bennett, “Surface Transformation Thermodynamics of Alkaline Earth Carbonates Using First-Principles Calculations”, Surface Science, 2022 (726) 122165 *Cover Article for Surface Science

J. E. Heimann, J. Tucker, L. Huff, Y.-R. Kim, J. Ali, M. K. Stroot, X. Welch, H. White, M. Wilson, C. Wood, G. Gates, Z. Rosenzweig, and J. W. Bennett, “Density Functional Theory (DFT) as a Non-Destructive Probe in the Field of Art Conservation: Small Molecule Adsorption on Aragonite Surfaces”, ACS Appl. Mater. Inter. 2022 (14) 13858-13871

Developing New Antiferroelectric and Ferroelectric Oxides and Chalcogenides Within the A2BX3 Family*
A. C. Khan, A. S. Cook, J. A. Leginze, and J. W. Bennett, J. Mater. Res., 2021
*Special Issue Highlighting Early Career Materials Scientists 2022

Baltimore SCIART: A Fully Virtual Undergraduate Research Experience at the Interface of Computational Chemistry and Art
J. E. Heimann, T. H. Williams, J. W. Bennett, and Z. Rosenzweig, J. Chem. Ed., 2021

A Density Functional Theory (DFT) Investigation of How Small Molecules and Atmospheric Pollutants Relevant to Art Conservation Adsorb on Kaolinite, J. E. Heimann, R. T. Grimes, Z. Rosenzweig, and J. W. Bennett
Appl. Clay Sci., 2021 (206) 106075

Surface Transformations of Lead Oxides and Carbonates Using First-Principles and Thermodynamics Calculations
R. T. Grimes, J. A. Leginze, R. Zochowski, and J. W. Bennett
Inorg. Chem., 2021 (60) 1228-1240 * Featured in “Out in Inorganic Chemistry: A Celebration of LGBTQIAPN+ Inorganic Chemists” Virtual Issue


Courses Taught:

CHEM 405/605: Inorganic Chemistry
CHEM 405L: Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory
CHEM 490/684: Solid State Materials Chemistry
CHEM 399: Undergraduate Research in Chemistry
CHEM 499: Undergraduate Research in Chemistry (Writing)
CHEM 720: Literature Assessment
CHEM 898: Pre-Candidacy Doctoral Research
CHEM 899: Doctoral Research