Rachael G. Farber

Dr. Rachael G. Farber
  • Assistant Professor

Contact Info

3120 GL (ISB)
1567 Irving Hill Rd
Lawrence, KS 66045


B.S., Case Western Reserve University, 2013
Ph.D., Loyola University Chicago, 2018
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Chicago


  • Surface science
  • Ultra-high vacuum science and technology 
  • Fundamental heterogeneous catalysis 
  • Fundamental materials growth and characterization 


            Carefully controlling the surface properties, chemical interactions, and reaction mechanisms occurring during heterogeneously catalyzed reactions can drive highly selective and efficient product formation.  Our group uses ultra-high vacuum (UHV) surface science techniques to develop a fundamental understanding of the relationship between surface structure, chemical activity, and catalyst stability of 1) oxide-supported metal nanoparticles and 2) chiral-modified transition metal surfaces.   

            Oxide-supported metal nanoparticles are an effective catalyst for selective dehydrogenation reactions; this is thought to be due to the reactivity of the metal/oxide interface and chemical properties of the oxide support.  Chiral-modified catalysts are achiral catalyst surfaces templated with chiral adsorbates that effectively guide enantioselective catalysis.  The role of the templating molecule on enantioselective reactivity is not well understood for this emerging catalytic system.  Using a combination of ensemble and spatially resolved in situ UHV surface science techniques, such as low-energy electron diffraction (LEED), temperature programmed desorption (TPD), Auger electron spectroscopy (AES), and low-temperature scanning tunneling microscopy/spectroscopy (LT-STM/STS), we aim to develop a comprehensive understanding of the specific active sites, electronic effects, and reaction mechanisms driving efficient and selective product formation over complex heterogeneous catalysts. 

Selected Publications

Farber, R. G., Willson, S. A., Sibener, S. J. Role of Nanoscale Surface Defects on Sn Adsorption and Diffusion Behavior on Oxidized Nb(100), JVST A, 2021, 39, 063212 DOI: 10.1116/6.0001374 

Veit, R. D.*, Farber, R. G.*, Sitaraman, N. S., Arias, T. A., Sibener, S. J. Suppression of Nano-Hydride Growth on Nb(100) due to Nitrogen Doping, J. Chem. Phys., 2020, 152, 214703 DOI: 10.1063/5.0007042 *Denotes dual authorship 

Farber, R. G., Turano, M. E., Killelea, D. R., Identification of Surface Sites for Low-Temperature Heterogeneously Catalyzed CO Oxidation on Rh(111), ACS Catal., 2018, 8, 11483-11490  DOI: 10.1021/acscatal.8b03887 

Farber, R. G., Turano, M. E., Oskorep, E. C. N., Wands, N. T., Iski, E. V., Killelea, D. R. The Quest for Stability: Structural Dependence of Rh(111) on Oxygen Coverage at Elevated Temperature, J. Phys. Chem. C, 2017, 121, 10470-10475 DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.7b02738 

Kolb, M. J., Farber, R. G., Derouin, J., Badan, C., Calle-Vallejo, F., Juurlink, L. B. F., Killelea, D. R., Koper, M. T. M. Double-Stranded Water on Stepped Platinum Surfaces, Phys. Rev. Lett., 2016, 116, 136101 10.1103/PhysRevLett.116.136101

Awards & Honors

  • Chicago Materials Research Center Kadanoff-Rice Postdoctoral Fellowship, The University of Chicago, 2018
  • Anna Louise Hoffman Award for Outstanding Achievement in Graduate Research, Iota Sigma Pi, 2018 
  • The Dumbach Award for Excellence in Chemistry, Loyola University Chicago. 2018 
  • Morton M. Traum Surface Science Student Award, AVS 64th International Symposium and Exhibition, 2017 
  • Nellie Yeoh Whetten Award, AVS 64th International Symposium and Exhibition, 2017