Thorpe, Steven J.

Thorpe, Steven J.

Steven J. Thorpe, Professor | BASc, MASc, PhD (Toronto)


U of T Governing Council—incumbent candidate

Teaching Staff, Constituency IV—Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering

Integrity, experience, students.

As the incumbent representative of Teaching Staff, Constituency IV, I have served on the Academic and Business Boards, Committees on Academic Policy & Programs, Academic Appeals and as Chair of Planning and Budget Committee where I have gained valuable insight into program reviews and financial oversight of the University’s affairs. My previous roles as Vice-Dean, Undergraduate and Associate Chair, Graduate Studies has provided me with the experience to address critical issues in governance facing our great University.

During my tenure as a Governor, the following items passed through Governance.

Budget and Major Capital Projects (including but not limited to):

  • Multiple Operating Budget Reviews
  • Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering – CEIE Building
  • IBBME – Mars Tower II
  • University College – Phase I and II
  • Faculty of Law – Jackman Law Building
  • Faculty of Architecture – John H. Daniels

Program, Policy Reviews, and Appointments (including but not limited to):

  • Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Materials Science and Engineering
  • Tri-Campus Governance Model
  • UTS Affiliation Agreement
  • Appointment Reviews of Chairs, Vice Deans, Deans, and Senior Administration

I hope to continue to work for you and with you to enhance the research and teaching experience of this great University.


Office: MB 212B
T: 416.978.8584
E: steven.thorpe@utoronto.ca

Research Group: Surface Engineering & Electrochemistry (SEE) Group


Honours & Awards

  • Canadian Perspective Lecturer
  • Faculty Teaching Award, Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, University of Toronto
  • OCMR Academics in Industry Award
  • NSERC University Research Fellow
  • Outstanding Young Members Award, ASM Ontario Chapter
  • NATO Science Fellow
  • Centennial Thesis Award
  • W.S. Wilson Medal, University of Toronto

Professional Memberships

  • Electrochemical Society
  • American Society for Metals (ASM)

Research Areas

Research is focused on the properties of surfaces and interfaces though examination of the chemical, electrochemical, and structure-chemical interactions that occur in materials. A brief summary of current research areas follows.

Production of Amorphous and Nanocrystalline Thin Films

The production of novel amorphous and nanocrystalline materials is underway using two UHV equipment systems. For thick films (~40 µm), planar flow casting is used to produce materials in the form of ribbons for use as electrocatalysts in alkaline fuel cells, PEM fuel cells and electrolysers. For thin film (~50 nm), production, deposition on a substrate is achieved using a UHV PVD ion beam deposition system. Production of amorphous and nanocrystalline films of Ni, Fe, Cr, Ag, Au and their alloys have been produced for use in the surface modification of biomaterials, for studying dealloying in producing nanoporous materials and as corrosion barriers and electrocatalysts in alternate energy technologies. A new class of amorphous materials, bulk metallic glasses having very high elastic moduli and stiffness, are also under investigation using suction casting linked to a vacuum arc melting apparatus.

Characterization of Amorphous and Nanocrystalline Metal

Upon fabrication of amorphous metals or nanocrystalline materials, various tools are used to characterize their structure including scanning electron microscopy, x-ray diffraction, scanning transmission microscopy offer superior general and localized corrosion resistance compared to conventional metallic materials. The general and localized corrosion resistance of these alloys is being assessed using a wide variety of polarization techniques: potentiodynamic, potentiostatic, pit propagation rate testing, electrochemical potentiokinetic reactivation testing and impedance spectroscopy. The thermal stability and effects of devitrification of these glassy alloys into multiphase or nanocrystalline supersaturated solid solutions is explored using differential scanning calorimetry. The localized corrosion resistance of these films is closely related to their oxide film chemistries and their role in passivity and localized corrosion using x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) has been elucidated. These materials may have use as surface modified coatings in biomaterials and advanced metallization in microelectronics, e.g. the usefulness of these coating in preventing corrosion of stents.

Amorphous Metal / Nanocrystalline Electrocatalysis

Amorphous metals are a unique class of materials, possessing novel surface chemistry properties rendering then ideal for use in surface related industries of heterogeneous catalysis and sensors. The development of anode materials for hydrogen fuel cells and electrolysers, methanol fuel cells and chlorine evolution as a function of anode chemistry and surface treatment offering enhanced reactivity and selectivity is under investigation. Novel chemical activation treatments have been develop which yield activated catalyst surfaces with excellent stability in alkali environments. Some insight into the modification of catalyst surface chemistry through chemical treatment has been achieved by XPS. The electrocatalytic properties of nanocrystalline materials made by devitrification of metallic glasses and sputtering are also being investigated.

Template Synthesis of Nanowires and Nanotubes

Work has being initiated in the fabrication, structural and electrochemical characterization of metallic nanotubes and nanowires with controlled sizes and geometries over the size range of 5 to 800 nm. These nanostructures have potential for use in many areas such as catalysis, electronics, optoelectronics, photonics, information storage, energy conversion, fluid transportation and drug release along with chemical and biological sensing.

Select Publications

M.A. Kostowskyj, R.J. Gilliam, D.W. Kirk, S.J. Thorpe. “Silver Nanowire Catalysts for Alkaline Fuel Cells”, J. Hydrogen Energy 33 (2008) 5773-5778.

R.J. Gilliam, D.W. Kirk, S.J. Thorpe. “Dependence of Catalytic Activity on Electrode Size” Electrochemistry Communications 9 (2007) 2276-2279.

R.J. Gilliam, S.J. Thorpe, D.W. Kirk. “A Nucleation and Growth Study of Gold Nanowires and Nanotubes in Polymeric Membranes”, Journal of Applied Electrochemistry 37 (2007) 233-239.

E. Mauer, D.W. Kirk, S.J. Thorpe, “The Role of Iron in the Prevention of Nickel Electrode Deactivation in Alkaline Electrolysis”, Electrochimica Acta 52, (2007), 3505-3509.

B.Lin, D.W. Kirk, S.J. Thorpe, “Performance of Alkaline Fuel Cells: A Possible Future Energy System?”, Journal of Power Sources 161 (2006), 474-483.

R.M. Abouatallah, D.W. Kirk, S.J. Thorpe, J.W. Graydon, “Reactivation of Nickel Cathodes by Dissolved Vanadium Species during Hydrogen Evolution in Alkaline Media”, Electrochimica Acta 47 (2002) 2483-2494.

D.W. Kirk, S.J. Thorpe, H. Suzuki, “Ni-base Amorphous Alloys as Electrocatalysts for Alkaline Water Electrolysis”, J. of Hydrogen Energy 22 (1997) 493-500.

J.W. Graydon, S.J. Thorpe, D.W. Kirk, “Effect of Composition on the Formation and Thermal Stability of Amorphous Ni-(Co,Mo) Alloys”, Acta Metallurgica et Materialia 43 (1995) 1363-1373.