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Peter T. Cummings

Associate Dean for Research, School of Engineering
John R. Hall Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering


Computational Nanoscience. We are interested in modeling nanostructured systems, such as supercapacitors created using ionic liquids as the electrolyte and nanoporous carbons as the electrodes. We work closely with experimentalists who probe the nanoscale structure using neutron and X-ray scattering. 

Molecular Rheology of Bulk and Nanoconfined Lubricants. Using several non-equilibrium molecular dynamics simulation methods, we study the rheology (particularly viscosity) of typical lubricants used in conventional (e.g., automotive) and unconventional (e.g., disk drive lubrication) applications. Our goal is to develop tools that will enable lubricant designs to be tested computationally before deciding a lubricant is sufficiently superior to others that it is worth synthesizing. The effect of nanoscale confinement on lubricants can be extreme: a molecular fluid that is an effective lubricant in bulk may become a solid under confinement, depending on degree of confinement and the strength of the interaction between the solid and the lubricant.


John M. Prausnitz Award in Applied Chemical Thermodynamics for significant and lasting contributions to the field of applied chemical thermodynamics, 2013
Yeram S. Touloukian Medal, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 2012
Founders Award, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, 2010
Elected Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, 2009
Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2007 Vanderbilt University Chancellor’s Award for Research, 2007
American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Nanoscale Science and Engineering Forum (NSEF) Forum Award, 2007
Elected Fellow of the American Physics Society, 2005
Lockheed Martin Research Achievement Award for sustained research accomplishment, 1999
Alpha Chi Sigma Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, 1998
Lockheed Martin Technical Achievement Award for Publications, 1997
University of Virginia President and Board of Visitors Prize for research in the life sciences, 1996
Inaugural Gold Medal for Professional Excellence awarded by the Convocation (alumni association) of the University of Newcastle, 1988
Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation Research Award for Newly Appointed Faculty in the Chemical Sciences, 1983
Nanson Prize for Best Research Memoir by a Graduate Student, Mathematics Department, University of Melbourne, 1979
University Medal in Mathematics, University of Newcastle, 1976

Selected Publications:

The influence of a hierarchical porous carbon network on the coherent dynamics of a nanoconfined room temperature ionic liquid: A neutron spin echo and atomistic simulation investigation. Banuelos, JL; Feng, G; Fulvio, PF; Li, S; Rother, G; Arend, N; Faraone, A; Dai, S; Cummings, PT; Wesolowski, DJ, CARBON, 78, 415-427 , (2014) View Abstract

Bias-Dependent Molecular-Level Structure of Electrical Double Layer in Ionic Liquid on Graphite. Black, JM; Walters, D; Labuda, A; Feng, G; Hillesheim, PC; Dai, S; Cummings, PT; Kalinin, SV; Proksch, R; Balke, N, NANO LETTERS, 13, 5954-5960 , (2013) View Abstract

Supercapacitor Capacitance Exhibits Oscillatory Behavior as a Function of Nanopore Size. Feng, G, Cummings, PT, PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY LETTERS, 2, 2859-2864 , (2011) View Abstract