Matthew Tarr, Ph.D.



  • B.S., Emory 1988
  • Ph.D., Georgia Tech 1992


Research Specialties

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Environmental Studies

Professor Tarr's research focuses on several areas including the study of free radicals in environmental systems, the study of free radicals in biological systems, and the synthesis and characterization of nanomaterials for environmental and biomedical applications. Three projects are currently being pursued:

  1. production of chemical oxidants for pollutant degradation;
  2. free radical oxidation of cell membranes and lipids;
  3. synthesis and characterization of noble metal-metal oxide nanoparticles.

The first project involves the use of chemical reactants (such as Fe2+-H2O2) or low energy methods (such as sonochemistry) to produce reactive oxygen species. Hydroxyl radical (HO·) is the primary oxidant in these systems, although other species may also occur (e.g., superoxide, hydroperoxyl radical). These reactive oxygen species are then utilized to degrade unwanted pollutants. Such techniques are being investigated in both aqueous and soil systems. The effects of the sample matrix on reaction rates and pathways are of particular interest. Furthermore, we develop systems that maximize the oxidation of the targeted pollutant while minimizing the loss of oxidant through reaction with matrix species. Current studies are focusing on modified cyclodextrins, a class of naturally occurring oligosaccharides, as additives that can improve degradation efficiency.

The second project involves the attack of laboratory generated free radicals on simulated membranes and biolipids such as low density lipoprotein (LDL). In these studies, free radicals are generated by chemical methods, and the resulting oxidation of the membrane or lipoprotein is studied using analytical techniques such as mass spectrometry and fluorescence spectroscopy.

The third project involves synthesis and characterization of nanocomposite materials containing metal oxides and noble metals (e.g. gold). In this work, we utilize sonochemical, photochemical, and wet chemical techniques to produce nanoscale materials with more than one phase. For example, we have produced gold-magnetite nanocomposites, titanium dioxide-magnetite nanocomposites, and titanium dioxide-gold nanocomposites. Once produced, we characterize these materials using a range of techniques including transmission electron microscopy, elemental analysis, X-ray powder diffraction, and magnetic measurements. The materials are then studied for applications such as photocatalytic pollutant destruction, drug delivery, and biomedical imaging.


Recent Papers

"Formation of Gold Coated Magnetic Nanoparticles Using TiO2 as a Bridging Material," B. L. Oliva, A. Pradhan, D. Caruntu, C. J. O'Connor, and M. A. Tarr, J. Mat. Res. 2006, 21, 1312-1316.

"Swimming Performance of Juvenile Florida Pompano Exposed to Ethylene Glycol and Methanol: Synergistic Effects," M. A. Stead, D. M. Baltz, E. J. Chesney, M. A. Tarr, A. S. Kolok, and B. D. Marx, Trans. Am. Fisheries Soc. 2005, 134, 1438-1447.

"Enhancement of sonochemical degradation of phenol using hydrogen atom scavengers," W. Zheng, M. Maurin, and M. A. Tarr, Ultrason. Sonochem. 2005, 12, 313-317.

"Evidence for the existence of ternary complexes of iron, cyclodextrin, and hydrophobic guests in aqueous solution," W. Zheng and M. A. Tarr, J. Phys. Chem. B 2004, 108, 10172-10176.

"Dication induced stabilization of gas-phase ternary beta-cyclodextrin inclusion complexes observed by electrospray mass spectrometry," Yang Cai, Matthew A. Tarr, Guoxiang Xu, Talat Yalcin, and Richard B. Cole, J. Am. Soc. Mass Spectrom. 2003, 14, 449-459.

"Enhanced Fenton Degradation of Hydrophobic Pollutants by Simultaneous Iron and Pollutant Complexation with Cyclodextrins," M. E. Lindsey, G. Xu, J. Lu, and M. A. Tarr, Sci. Tot. Environ. 2003, 307, 215-229.