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Peter T. Cummings

Research Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
John R. Hall, Professor of Chemical Engineering, Emeritus
Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Emeritus


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