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James W.


LKD Rm. 1109

Faculty Details


1970, Ph.D. Iowa State University, Ames
1965, BS NC A&T State University, Greensboro


• Characterization Science, Materials Chemistry and Chemical Process Engineering
• Characterization and Synthesis of Nanomaterials
• Determination of Nanogram Levels of Impurities by Nuclear Techniques
• Ultra purification and Analysis of Electronic and Photonic Materials
• Microwave Plasma Induced Materials and Analytical Chemistry
• In situ Generation Chemistry and Environmentally Optimized Processing


General Research Interests
The characterization and reaction chemistry of high-technology materials, especially those required in unprecedentedly high states of purity, are investigated using any of the appropriate analytical tools and methods. In the case of photonic and electronic materials, research activities cover a broad range, which includes assessing the state of purity of materials by developing novel analytical methods and instruments for extreme trace elemental analysis, devising new approaches for ultrapurification of analytical reagents and process chemicals through elucidation of chemical reaction pathways of trace elements, and innovating new contamination-free processes for generating precursors for synthesizing thin film materials and devices.

Specific Research Interests: Nanomaterials Characterization Chemistry and Processing Research
A. Synthesis and Processing of Ultrapure Reagents and Materials
• In Situ Generation Chemistry and Design of Equipment
• Hazard Mitigation of Electronic Reagent and Nanomaterials Synthesis
• Microwave Plasma Induced Chemistry

B. Nanomaterials Characterization Science and Processing Technology
• Executing the characterization science research required for determining
comprehensively the chemical status and stability of nanomaterials
• Developing methods for generating/synthesizing biocompatible nanomaterials
• Innovating processes for fabricating nanostructured material

Personal Research Accomplishments
• Trace Analysis Work Contributed to the Establishment of the Analytical Chemistry of Optical Waveguide Technology.
 Developed methods for reagent purification, purity analysis and contamination control for the fabrication of ultra-low loss optical waveguides. Designed and constructed one of the first clean rooms for trace analysis. Developed diagnostics and process analytical chemistry at the factory level to solve problems impacting the significant enhancement of optical fiber manufacture.

• Pioneered Ultrapurity Techniques for Optical Waveguide Reagents and Trace Analysis.
 Invented the cryogenic sublimation process for ultra-purification of liquid reagents and prepared record - setting purity reagents, POCl3 and CCl4, for optical fiber applications, and H2O2 and NH2NH2 for use as redox reagents for extreme trace analysis.

• Developed Chemical Analysis Methods Making Possible the Accurate Quantization of PPB Levels of Trace Elements.
 Co-developed and demonstrated the first laser intracavity analytical system for practical quantitative spectrophotometric determination of ppb levels of trace elements; measured Fe in the highest purity SiCl4, the primary reagent for optical fiber manufacture.

 First to demonstrate the use of synergetic chemical reagents making possible the enhanced determination of most elements amenable to determination by neutron activation.

 Co-developed the first chemical separation techniques extending x-ray fluorescence methods from the ppm into the ppb regime.

• Conceptualized On-Demand Production of Chemical Reagents as the Next Generation Approach to Reagent Delivery for Device Manufacture.

 Co-developed the first on-demand chemical generator commercialized for arsine production; proved applications for MBE, VPE and MOCVD synthesis of III-V materials and devices.

Subjects Taught: 

a. Frontier in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology
b. Recent Advance in Nanoscience and Nanoengineering

Detailed Information

About Me: 

Currently, Mitchell’s research focuses on the characterization and synthesis of ultrapure nanomaterials at Howard University, where he is Director of the CREST Nanomaterials Characterization Science and Processing Technology Center. His group explores the use of microwaves, high energy electrons and electrochemistry as clean energy sources for the synthesis of nanomaterials in pristine media. An array of analytical methods are then applied and/or developed to comprehensively establish the chemical and physical states of the nanomaterials, and to document biocompatibility for use in nanobiomolecular research.

Mitchell's initial research programs at Bell Laboratories focused on developing methods for the ultrapurification and analysis of optical waveguide reagents and research chemicals. Nuclear and x-ray fluorescence methods were developed for extreme trace analysis. Reagent synthesis research exploited microwave discharges and plasmas for the in situ generation of pure reagents, their on-line analysis, and the CVD synthesis of materials. Later, his interests turned to developing alternative environmentally friendly chemical engineering methods for producing electronic chemicals.

He pioneered chemical methods for extreme trace analyses that first permitted quantitative x-ray fluorescence to be applied at the parts per billion level, and applied these methods for the characterization of optical waveguide materials. At the sub-parts per billion level, he introduced chemical reagent systems for determining more than 40 trace elements amenable to neutron activation analysis. He developed and applied these methods to establish the materials characterization chemistry for optical waveguide technology. For the invention of novel instruments and processes for the characterization and fabrication of materials for optical fiber and device technology, he received the Bell Laboratories Research Fellow Award in 1985. In 1989 he was inducted into the Materials Engineering Section of the National Academy of Engineering, and later awarded an honorary doctorate degree by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Dr. James W. Mitchell retired from Bell Labs, Lucent Technologies, at Murray Hill, New Jersey in 2001, where he held the position of Vice President, Communications Materials Technology Research Laboratory. He had managed various research departments focusing respectively on plastics processing and engineering, ceramics and metallurgy, process and chemical engineering, reliability and electrochemistry, power systems, wireless packaging and interconnection, and chemical research (including analytical, organic, inorganic, and physical). His management of science and engineering spans diverse disciplines including chemistry, engineering (ceramic, electrical, chemical and mechanical), materials, metallurgy, physics, and polymer science. His responsibilities included the full range from invention, prototyping and development of high technology materials, processes and equipment to transfer of high reliability, environmentally-conscious process technology.

Appointments and Affiliations
Academic Experience:
Howard University
2013, Special Assignment, Office of the Provost, Dr. Wayne Frederick
2010, Dean, College of Engineering, Architecture and Computer Sciences
2009, Director, CREST Nanoscale Analytical Sciences Research and Education Center
2004, David and Lucille Packard Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering
2003, Director, CREST Nanomaterials Characterization Science and Processing Technology Center
2002, David and Lucille Packard Professor of Materials Science, Adjunct
Non-Academic Experience:
Lucent Technologies Bell Laboratories
1998, Vice President, Communications Materials Research Laboratory 1997, Director, Materials Processing Research Laboratory 1995, Director, Materials Reliability and Ecology Research Laboratory
AT&T Bell Laboratories
1994, Head, Process and Chemical Engineering Research Department 1985, Bell Labs Research Fellow 1975, Head, Analytical Chemistry Research Department
1972, Supervisor, Inorganic Analytical Chemistry Group 1970, Member of Technical Staff
Certification or Professional Registrations: None

Scientific and Professional Societies of which a Member or Fellow:
American Chemical Society, Fellow
American Chemical Society
American Institute of Chemist, Fellow
Directors of Industrial Research, Analytical Chemistry Group
Materials Research Society
National Academy of Engineering, Materials Engineering Section National Organization for Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers National Society of Black Engineers
New York Academy of Science

Awards, Honors and Distinctions:
Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society, 1962 Beta Kappa Chi Honor Society, 1963 Sigma Xi Honor Society, 1969 Pharmacia Industrial Analytical Chemistry Award, 1978 Percy L. Julian Research Award, 1981 IR-100 Award, 1982 Bell Laboratories Research Fellow, 1985 IR-100 Award, 1989 National Academy of Engineering, 1989 Black Engineer of the Year, 1993 George Washington Carver Visiting Professor, Iowa State University, 1994 Honorary Doctorate of Science, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1995 NSBE Lifetime Achievement in Industry Award, 1999
African Science Institute, 2004
Giants in Science Award, 2006
Tau Beta Pi, 2010 History Makers, 2012
Fellow, American Chemical Society, 2013
HU Faculty Senate Inspirational Interdisciplinary Project Award, 2014
HU “STEM Stars Award”, Alums on the Hill, 2014
Howard University Patent Award, 2014

Professional Affiliations and Technical Society Memberships
American Chemical Society, Fellow
American Chemical Society
American Institute of Chemist, Fellow
Directors of Industrial Research, Analytical Chemistry Group
Materials Research Society
National Academy of Engineering, Materials Engineering Section National Organization for Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers National Society of Black Engineers
New York Academy of Science

Board Experience and University Relations/Service
American Chemical Society Board Committee on Minorities
Army Research Laboratory Technical Assessment Board
Board of Trustees of Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Board of Trustees of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Chairman Board of Assessment NBS Programs: Panel for Chem. Tech. Lab, 1990-91
Editorial Advisory Board Radioanalytical Chemistry Editorial Board, Analytical Chemistry
Editorial Board, Mikrochimica Acta
Industrial Advisory Board of New York Technical College National Research Council Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology, 1990-93
National Research Council Commission on Physical Science and Mathematics, 1994
New Jersey Institute of Technology Engineering Advisory Board

Institutional and Professional Services:
AAAS, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (Ecology and Sustainability)
ACS Board Committee on Minority Affairs
ACS Committee on Budget and Finance
ACS Committee on Chemistry and Public Policy, 2004
ACS Fisher Award Committee
ACS Willard Gibbs Medal Awards Committee
Advisory Committee for Chemistry Division of NSF
Advisory Committee for Thermophysic Division of NSF
Biological and Environmental Research Advisory Committee, DOE
International Benchmarking of U.S. Research Fields Materials Science Panel
MIT Corporation Visiting Committee for Chemistry Department NAE Audit Committee, 2013-
NAE Awards Committee, 1991-94
NAE Committee on Human Rights, 2000-
NAE Committee on Finance, 2014
National Institute of Standards and Technology Visiting Committee
New Jersey Governor’s Science Advisory Committee Data Quality Plan
New Jersey Science Education Network
New Jersey State Committee on Quality Assurance
Urban League Black Executive Exchange Program
US Army Research Office Review Panel for Chem. Sci. Div.

Patents, Publications and Presentations
Howard University
• James W. Mitchell, Dazhi Yang, Application : 62136220, March 20, 2005, Polysaccharide-Polyamine Copolymer for Removal of Phosphate
• James W. Mitchell, Dazhi Yang, Application: 62136241, March 24, 2015, Micro-carriers, Matrices and Scaffolds for Culturing Mammalian Cell
• WO/2014/074854 “Block Copolymers for Tooth Enamel Protection”, James W. Mitchell, Lynette Zaidel, Mahmoud Hassan, Tongxin Wang, Yanda Lei and Jianhong Qiu
• Tongxin Wang, and James W. Mitchell, WO 2013/154704 A1. “Polylactide and Apatite Compositions and Methods of Making the Same”
• James Mitchell and Reginald Little, WO 14/006,080, “Methods and Systems for Modulating Oxidation/Reduction Reactions Using an Induced Magnetic Field”, Application No: PCT/US12/30141 (WO 2012/134,954); FETF No: 8823-102018-US

Lucent Technologies Bell Labs
• 3, 9992,159, November 16, 1976, ``Process for Purification of Liquids by Cryogenic Sublimation'', James W. Mitchell
• 5,128,006, July 2, 1992, ``Deposition of Diamond Films on Semiconductor Substrates'', James W. Mitchell and Jorge Valdes
• 5,441,103, August 15, 1995, ``Electrochemical Generation of Silane'', James W. Mitchell and Jorge Valdes
• 5,427,659, June 27, 1995, ``Process for the Manufacture of Devices'', James W. Mitchell
• 5,474,659, December 12, 1995, ``Process and Apparatus For Generating Precursor Gases Used in the Manufacture of Semiconductor Devices'', Gardy Cadet, James W. Mitchell and Jorge Valdes

Representative Publications:
Recent Publications (taken from a total list of 96)
1. *Ohwoavworhua, Frank, Mitchell, J.W., “Liquid Crystalline Nanoparticles in Drug Delivery” in Vol. 1, Liquid Nanocarriers in Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology; Alex Gusenzetg (ed), Elsevier, (Accepted 2017).
2. *Xiao, Yinghong, Wang, Tongxin, Chen, Xue, Yang, Xiaodi, Mitchell, James, “Nitrogen Doped Graphene Combined with Bioactive Conducting Polymer: an Ideal Platform for Neural Interface,” (Accepted, 2016).
3. Lei, Y; Wang, T; Mitchell, J W.; Chow, L C., “Covalent Immobilization of Xanthate Agent on Titanium Dioxide and Surface Initiated RAFT Polymerization”, J Basic & Clin. Med., 2014; 3: 1-3.
4. Dong, Q; Chow, L. C.; Wang, T; Frukhtbeyn, S. A.; Wang, F; Yang, M; Mitchell, J. W., “A New Bioactive Polylactide-Based Composite with High Mechanical Strength”, Colloids & Surfaces A, 2014, 567; 256-262.
5. Liu, X; Wang, T; Chow, L C.; Yang, M; Mitchell, J W., “Effects of Inorganic Fillers on the Thermal and Mechanical Properties of Poly (Lactic Acid)’, Int. J. Polym. Sci., 2014, 827028.
6. Lei, Y; Wang, T; Mitchell, J. W.; Qiu, J; Kilpatrick, L, “Synthesis of Carboxylic Block Copolymers Via RAFT for Tooth Erosion Prevention”, J Dent Res. (under revision) 2014.


Associate Professor Preethi Chandran Awarded $500K NSF Grant for Biological Research

Tue, September 29, 2020

Chemical Engineering Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies Preethi Chandran, Ph.D., received a $500K grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) through the Excellence in Research (EiR) program to study the biophysics of the shield of sugars (glycans) that typically covers pathogens.Read More >>

Associate Professor Preethi Chandran Partners with Heart of Tabitha Foundation on STEM and College Readiness Workshop

Fri, September 11, 2020

The Heart of Tabitha Foundation partnered with Howard University Chemical Engineering Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies Preethi Chandran, Ph.D., and Catholic University Biomedical Engineering Associate Professor Otto Wilson, Ph.D., to continue offering its annual summer workshop for local high school students in a virtual setting. The workshop focused on college readiness and STEM careers and featured speakers from several professions. Read More >>


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