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Paul J. McGinn

Professor McGinn's primary research interests are in the areas of the processing and properties of advanced materials. Current research programs are aimed at developing the processing tools and screening instrumentation for combinatorial materials development and discovery. The combinatorial approach to materials research employs parallel (or automated serial) processing to create large "libraries" of material compositions, followed by parallel (or automated serial) testing to characterize the compositions for a specific property of interest. Much of the potential of the combinatorial approach rests on the development of rapid means to screen libraries for a property of interest. Over the past several years we have developed and put in place a wide range of automated processing and characterization tools for combinatorial research.

We are using these tools to develop materials for a) noble metal free fuel cell electrodes, b) improved electrodes and solid electrolytes for Li-ion batteries c) diesel soot combustion catalysts 

Automated Processing

  • Inkjet deposition of oxide precursors: powder precursors are inkjet deposited into small crucibles or bio-array plates for synthesis of 10-50 mg quantities of oxide powders. This is currently used for catalyst development of diesel soot combustion applications. (Image)
  • Pipette based dispensing: this is used for dispensing of powder slurries to automatically synthesize samples from existing powders. Stable dispersed powder slurries are pipetted into vials and mixed. High solids loadings are used to allow for centrifugal compaction without segregation. This is being used to develop higher toughness carbon-carbon composites based on the use of mesophase carbon microbeads. (Image)
  • Sputtering: Plasma sputtering is used to develop thin film combinatorial arrays. These are presently used in the development of  fuel cell electro catalysts and battery electrodes (Image)
  • Pulsed laser deposition: PLD is used for deposition of complex oxides. Computer controlled shutters permit formation of thickness wedges for generation of composition gradient combinatorial libraries.

Automated Characterization

Serial Characterization

  • Scanning electrochemical microscope: local electrochemical characterization of thin film libraries (Image)
  • Scanning Microwave microscope: characterization of dielectric samples of thin film and bulk samples (Image)
  • X-ray diffraction: diffractometer with computer controlled x-y-z stage and focusing optic for intense small beam spot (Image)
  • Auto-load TGA: automated serial characterization of catalysis samples (Image)
  • Automated Optical Microscope: x-y-z stage with autofocus permits automated optical characterization of thin film libraries (Image

Parallel Characterization

  • Multielectrode microarray system: parallel electrochemical characterization of thin film arrays. (Image)
  • Infrared Thermal Imaging: Characterization of exothermic reactions in catalyst arrays
  • Nuvant Combinatorial Fuel cell Test System: Parallel testing of 25 miniature fuel cells each with a different anode or cathode catalyst

Laboratory Facilities (click here)

More Details:


Current Group Members:


  • Yuan Zhang
  • Ying Jin
  • James Zokoe
  • Robert Jonson
  • Chris von der Mehden
  • John Hauck

Selected Publications:

  • Guojin Lu, James S. Cooper, Paul J. McGinn “SECM Characterization of Pt-Ru-WC and Pt-Ru-Co Ternary Thin Film Combinatorial Libraries as Anode Electrocatalysts for PEMFC” Journal of Power Sources 161 (2006) 106–114
  • James S. Cooper, Guanghai Zhang, Paul J. McGinn A plasma sputtering system for deposition of thin film combinatorial libraries, Review of Scientific Instruments, 76 (2005) Art. No. 062221 (1-7)
  • Min Ku Jeon, James S. Cooper and Paul J. McGinn “Investigation of PtCoCr/C catalysts for methanol electro-oxidation identified by a thin film combinatorial method” Journal of Power Sources, 192 (2009) 391-395


Updated 1-18-12

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Description: pjm

Paul J. McGinn


BS, University of Notre Dame, 1980
MS, University of Notre Dame, 1983
PhD, University of Notre Dame, 1984

Research Areas:
Materials Processing
Advanced Ceramics

Contact Info:
Professor Paul McGinn
Dept of Chemical & Biomolecular           Engineering
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN 46556 USA

Phone: 574.631.6151
Fax: 574.631.8366