James Tour

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James Mitchell Tour
Professor James Tour.jpg
Born 1959
New York City
Residence Houston, Texas
Nationality American
Fields Organic Chemistry
Materials Science
Institutions Rice University, 1999-present
University of South Carolina, 1988-1999
Alma mater Stanford University, Postdoctoral
University of Wisconsin, Postdoctoral
Purdue University, PhD
Syracuse University, BS
Thesis Metal-Promoted Cyclization and Transition-Metal-Promoted Carbonylative Cyclization Reactions
Doctoral advisor Ei-ichi Negishi
Known for Molecular electronics, nanotechnology, carbon materials
Spouse Shireen G. Tour

James M. Tour is a synthetic organic chemist, specializing in nanotechnology. Dr. Tour is the T. T. and W. F. Chao Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Materials Science and NanoEngineering, and Professor of Computer Science at Rice University in Houston, Texas, United States.


He is well known for his work in molecular electronics and molecular switching molecules. He has also been involved in other work, such as the creation of a nanocar and NanoKids, an interactive learning DVD to teach children fundamentals of chemistry and physics, SciRave, Dance Dance revolution and Guitar Hero packages to teach science concepts to middle-school students and SciRave-STEM for elementary school children, and much work on carbon nanotubes and graphene.[1][2][3][4] Dr. Tour’s work on carbon materials chemistry is broad and encompasses fullerene purification,[5][6] composites,[7][8] conductive inks for radio frequencies identification tags,[9][10] carbon nanoreporters for identifying oil downhole,[11][12] graphene synthesis from cookies and insects,[13] graphitic electronic devices,[14][15] carbon particle drug delivery for treatment of traumatic brain injury,[16][17] the merging of 2D graphene with 1D nanotubes to make a conjoined hybrid material,[18] a new graphene-nanotube 2D material called rebar graphene,[19] graphene quantum dots from coal,[20] gas barrier composites,[21] graphene nanoribbon deicing films,[22] supercapacitors and battery device structures,[23][24] and water splitting to H2 and O2 using metal chalcogenides.[25] His work with the synthesis of graphene oxide,[26] its mechanism of formation,[27] and its use in capturing radionuclides from water is extensive.[28] Dr. Tour has developed oxide based electronic memories that can also be transparent and built onto flexible substrates.[29] More recently, he has been using porous metal structures to make renewable energy devices including batteries and supercapacitors, as well as electronic memories.[30] Tour is also well known for his work on nanocars, single-molecule vehicles with four independently rotating wheels, axles, and light-activated motors.[31] Tour was the first to show that Feringa-based motors[32] can be used to move a molecule on a surface using light[33] as opposed to electric current from an STM tip. His early independent career focused upon the synthesis of conjugated polymers and precise oligomers.[34] Dr. Tour was also a founder of the Molecular Electronics Corporation. He holds joint appointments in the departments of chemistry, computer science, and materials science and nanoengineering at Rice University. Dr. Tour received degrees from Syracuse University (BS, 1981), Purdue University (PhD, 1986) and completed postdoctoral work at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (1986–1987) and Stanford University (1987–1988).[35]

Tour holds more than 120 United States patents plus many non-US patents.[36] He has more than 600 research publications,[37] with an H-index = 119 (100 by ISI Web of Science) and i10 index = 484 with total citations over 67,000 (Google Scholar).

In the Scientific American article "Better Killing Through Chemistry",[38] which appeared a few months after the September 11 attacks, Tour is credited for highlighting the issue of the ease of obtaining chemical weapon precursors in the United States.

In 2001, Tour signed the Discovery Institute's "A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism", a controversial petition which the intelligent design movement uses to promote intelligent design by attempting to cast doubt on evolution.[39][40] To those who "are disconcerted or even angered that I signed a statement back in 2001" he responded "I have been labeled as an Intelligent Design (ID) proponent. I am not. I do not know how to use science to prove intelligent design although some others might. I am sympathetic to the arguments on the matter and I find some of them intriguing, but the scientific proof is not there, in my opinion. So I prefer to be free of that ID label."[41]

He had also said that he felt the explanations offered by evolution are incomplete, and he found it hard to believe that nature can produce the machinery of cells through random processes.[39] On his website, he writes that "From what I can see, microevolution is a fact" and "there is no argument regarding microevolution. The core of the debate for me, therefore, is the extrapolation of microevolution to macroevolution."[41]

In Lee Strobel's book "The Case For Faith" - the following commentary is attributed to Tour: "I build molecules for a living, I can't begin to tell you how difficult that job is. I stand in awe of God because of what he has done through his creation. Only a rookie who knows nothing about science would say science takes away from faith. If you really study science, it will bring you closer to God."[42]


Tour was inducted into the National Academy of Inventors in 2015.[43] He was named among "The 50 most Influential Scientists in the World Today" by TheBestSchools.org in 2014.[44] Tour was named "Scientist of the Year" by R&D Magazine in 2013.[45] Tour won the ACS Nano Lectureship Award from the American Chemical Society in 2012. Tour was ranked one of the top 10 chemists in the world over the past decade by Thomson Reuters in 2009. That year, he was also made a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Other notable awards won by Tour include the 2008 Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology, the NASA Space Act Award in 2008 for his development of carbon nanotube reinforced elastomers, the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award from the American Chemical Society (ACS) for his achievements in organic chemistry in 2007, the Small Times magazine's Innovator of the Year Award in 2006, the Southern Chemist of the Year Award from ACS in 2005, the Honda Innovation Award for Nanocars in 2005, the NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award in 1990, and the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award in 1989. In 2005, Tour's journal article "Directional Control in Thermally Driven Single-Molecule Nanocars" was ranked the Most Accessed Journal Article by the American Chemical Society.[46] Tour has twice won the George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching at Rice University in 2007 and 2012.

A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism[edit]

In February 2006, the New York Times reported[39] that Dr. Tour was one of a small number of nationally prominent researchers among five hundred scientists and engineers whose names appear on Discovery Institute's controversial petition, "A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism", which states "We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged."[47] The two-sentence statement has been widely used by its sponsor, the Discovery Institute, and some of their supporters in a national campaign to discredit evolution and to promote the teaching of intelligent design in public schools.[39][48][49][50]

The New York Times article described Tour as saying that the explanations offered by evolution are incomplete, and he found it hard to believe that nature can produce the machinery of cells through random processes. Despite this, he said he remained open-minded about evolution. He was quoted as saying "I respect that work" and being open to the possibility that future research will complete the explanations.[39]


  1. ^ Zhu, Y.; James, D. K.; Tour, J. M. (2012). "New Routes to Graphene, Graphene Oxide and Their Related Applications". Adv. Mater. 24: 4924–4955. doi:10.1002/adma.201202321. 
  2. ^ Sun, Z.; Yan, Z.; Yao, J.; Beitler, E.; Zhu, Y.; Tour, J. M. "Growth of Graphene from Solid Carbon Sources". Nature. 2010 (468): 549–552. doi:10.1038/nature09579. 
  3. ^ Kosynkin, D. V.; Higginbotham, A. L.; Sinitskii, A.; Lomeda, J. R.; Dimiev, A.; Price, B. K.; Tour, J. M. (April 2009). "Longitudinal Unzipping of Carbon Nanotubes to Form Graphene Nanoribbons". Nature. 458: 872–826. doi:10.1038/nature07872. PMID 19370030. 
  4. ^ Dimiev, A.; Kosynkin, D. V.; Sinitskii, A.; Slesarev, A.; Sun, Z.; Tour, J. M. "Layer-by-Layer Removal of Graphene for Device Patterning". Science. 331: 1168–1172. doi:10.1126/science.1199183. 
  5. ^ Scrivens, W. A.; Tour, J. M. "Synthesis of Gram Quantities of C60 by Plasma Discharge in a Modified Round-Bottomed Flask. Key Parameters for Yield Optimization and Purification". J. Org. Chem. 1992 (57): 6932–6936. doi:10.1021/jo00051a047. 
  6. ^ Scrivens, W. A.; Bedworth, P. V.; Tour, J. M. "Purification of Gram Quantities of C60. A New Inexpensive and Facile Method". J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1992 (114): 7917–7919. doi:10.1021/ja00046a051. 
  7. ^ Higginbotham, A. L.; Moloney, P. G.; Waid, M. C.; Duque, J. G.; Kittrell, C.; Schmidt, H. K.; Stephenson, J. J.; Arepalli, S.; Yowell, L. L.; Tour, J. M. (2008). "Carbon Nanotube Composite Curing Through Absorption of Microwave Radiation". Composites Sci. Tech. 68: 3087–3092. doi:10.1016/j.compscitech.2008.07.004. 
  8. ^ Mitchell, C. A.; Bahr, J. L.; Arepalli, S.; Tour, J. M.; Krishnamoorti, R. (2002). "Dispersion of Functionalized Carbon Nanotubes in Polystyrene". Macromolecules. 35: 8825–8830. doi:10.1021/ma020890y. 
  9. ^ Jung, M.; Kim, J.; Noh, J.; Lim, N.; Lim, C.; Lee, G.; Kim, J.; Kang, H.; Jung, K.; Leonard, A.; Pyo, M.; Tour, J. M.; Cho, G. "All Printed and Roll-to-Roll Printable 13.56 MHz Operated 1-bit RF Tag on Plastic Foils," IEEE Trans. Elect. Dev 1 2010, 57, 571-580.
  10. ^ Noh, J.; Jung, M.; Jung, K.; Lee, G.; Lim, S.; Kim, D.; Kim, S.; Tour, J. M.; Cho, G. (2011). "Integrable single walled carbon nanotube (SWNT) network based thin film transistors using roll-to-roll gravure and inkjet". Org. Electronics. 12: 2185–2191. doi:10.1016/j.orgel.2011.09.006. 
  11. ^ Berlin, J. M.; Yu, J.; Lu, W.; Walsh, E. E.; Zhang, L.; Zhang, P.; Chen, W.; Kan, A. T.; Wong, M. S.; Tomson, M. B.; Tour, J. M. "Engineered Nanoparticles for Hydrocarbon Detection in Oil-field Rocks," Energy Environ". Sci. 2011 (4): 505–509. doi:10.1039/c0ee00237b. 
  12. ^ Hwang, C.-C.; Wang, L.; Lu, W.; Ruan, G.; Kini, G. C.; Xiang, C.; Samuel, E. L. G.; Shi, W.; Kan, A. T.; Wong, M. S.; Tomson, M. B.; Tour, J. M. "Highly Stable Carbon Nanoparticles Designed for Downhole Hydrocarbon Detection," Energy Environ". Sci. 2012 (5): 8304–8309. doi:10.1039/c2ee21574h. 
  13. ^ Ruan, G.; Sun, Z.; Peng, Z.; Tour, J. M. (2011). "Growth of Graphene from Food, Insects, and Waste". ACS Nano. 5: 7601–7607. doi:10.1021/nn202625c. 
  14. ^ Sinitskii, A.; Tour, J. M. (2009). "Lithographic Graphitic Memories". ACS Nano. 3: 2760–2766. doi:10.1021/nn9006225. 
  15. ^ Li, Y.; Sinitskii, A.; Tour, J. M. (2008). "Electronic Two-Terminal Bistable Graphitic Memories". Nature Mater. 7: 966–971. doi:10.1038/nmat2331. 
  16. ^ Sano, D.; Berlin, J. M.; Pham, T. T.; Marcano, D. C.; Valdecanas, D. R.; Zhou, G.; Milas, L.; Myers, J. N.; Tour, J. M. (2012). "Noncovalent Assembly of Targeted Carbon Nanovectors Enables Synergistic Drug and Radiation Cancer Therapy in Vivo". ACS Nano. 6: 2497–2505. doi:10.1021/nn204885f. 
  17. ^ Sharpe, M. A.; Marcano, D. C.; Berlin, J. M.; Widmayer, M. A.; Baskin, D. S.; Tour, J. M. (2012). "Antibody-Targeted Nanovectors for the Treatment of Brain Cancers". ACS Nano. 6: 3114–3120. doi:10.1021/nn2048679. 
  18. ^ Zhu, Y.; Li, L.; Zhang, C.; Casillas, G.; Sun, Z.; Yan, Z.; Ruan, G.; Peng, Z.; Raji1, A.-R. O.; Kittrell, C.; Hauge, R. H.; Tour, J. M. "A Seamless Three-Dimensional Carbon Nanotube Graphene Hybrid Material," Nature Commun. 2012; 3, 1225. doi:10.1038/ncomms2234
  19. ^ Yan, Z.; Peng, Z.; Casillas, G.; Lin, J.; Xiang, C.; Zhou, H.; Yang, Y.; Ruan, G.; Raji, A.-R. O.; Samuel, E. L. G.; Hauge, R. H.; Yacaman, M. J.; Tour, J. M. "Rebar Graphene," ACS Nano 2014; 8, XXXX. doi:10.1021/nn501132n
  20. ^ Ye, R.; Xiang, C.; Lin, J.; Peng, Z.; Huang, K.; Yan, Z.; Cook, N. P.; Samuel, E. L. G.; Hwang, C.-C.; Ruan, G.; Ceriotti, G.; Raji, A.-R. O.; Martí, A. A.; Tour, J. M. (2013). "Coal as an Abundant Source of Graphene Quantum Dots". Nature Commun. 4 (2943): 1–6. doi:10.1038/ncomms3943. PMID 24309588. 
  21. ^ Xiang, C.; Cox, P. J.; Kukovecz, A.; Genorio, B.; Hashim, D. P.; Yan, Z.; Peng, Z.; Hwang, C.-C.; Ruan, G.; Samuel, E. L. G.; Sudeep, P. M.; Konya, Z.; Vajtai, R.; Ajayan, P. M.; Tour, J. M. (2013). "Functionalized Low Defect Graphene Nanoribbons and Polyurethane Composite Film for Improved Gas Barrier and Mechanical Performances". ACS Nano. 7: 10380–10386. doi:10.1021/nn404843n. 
  22. ^ Volman, V.; Zhu, Y.; Raji, A.-R.; Genorio, B.; Lu, W.; Xiang, C.; Kittrell, C.; Tour, J. M. (2014). "Radio-Frequency-Transparent, Electrically Conductive Graphene Nanoribbon Thin Films as Deicing Heating Layers". ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces. 6: 298–304. doi:10.1021/am404203y. 
  23. ^ Yang, Y.; Fan, X.; Casillas, G.; Peng, Z.; Ruan, G.; Wang, G.; Yacaman, M. J.; Tour, J. M. (2014). "Three-Dimensional Nanoporous Fe2O3/Fe3C Graphene Heterogeneous Thin Films for Lithium-Ion Batteries". ACS Nano. 8: 3939–3946. doi:10.1021/nn500865d. 
  24. ^ Zhang, C.; Peng, Z.; Lin, J.; Zhu, Y. Ruan; Hwang, C.-C.; Lu, W.; Hauge, R. H.; Tour, J. M. (2013). "Splitting of a Vertical Multiwalled Carbon Nanotube Carpet to a Graphene Nanoribbon Carpet and Its Use in Supercapacitors". ACS Nano. 7: 5151–5159. doi:10.1021/nn400750n. 
  25. ^ Lin, J., Peng, Z., Wang, G., Zakhidov, D., Larios, E., Yacaman, M. J.; Tour, J. M. "Enhanced Electrocatalysis for Hydrogen Evolution Reactions from WS2 Nanoribbons," Adv. Energy Mater. 2014; 1301875. doi:10.1002/aenm.201301875
  26. ^ Dimiev, A. M.; Alemany, L. B.; Tour, J. M. (2013). "Graphene Oxide. Origin of Acidity, Its Instability in Water, and a New Dynamic Structural Model". ACS Nano. 7: 576–588. doi:10.1021/nn3047378. 
  27. ^ Dimiev, A. M.; Tour, J. M. (2014). "Mechanism of Graphene Oxide Formation". ACS Nano. 8: 3060–3068. doi:10.1021/nn500606a. 
  28. ^ Romanchuk, A. Yu.; Slesarev, A. S.; Kalmykov, S. N.; Kosynkin, D. V.; Tour, J. M. (2013). "Graphene Oxide for Effective Radionuclide Removal". Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 15: 2321–2327. doi:10.1039/c2cp44593j. 
  29. ^ Yao, J.; Lin, J.; Dai, Y.; Ruan, G.; Yan, Z.; Li, L.; Zhong, L.; Natelson, D.; Tour, J. M. (2012). "Highly Transparent Nonvolatile Resistive Memory Devices from Silicon Oxide and Graphene". Nature Commun. 3: 1–8. doi:10.1038/ncomms2110. 
  30. ^ Yang, Y.; Ruan, G.; Xiang, C.; Wang, G.; Tour, J. M. "Flexible Three-Dimensional Nanoporous Metal-Based Energy Devices". J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2014 (136): 6187–6190. doi:10.1021/ja501247f. 
  31. ^ Chu, P.-L.; Wang, L.-Y.; Khatua, S.; Kolomeisky, A.; Link, S.; Tour, J. M. (2013). "Synthesis and Single-Molecule Imaging of Highly Mobile Adamantane-Wheeled Nanocars". ACS Nano. 7: 35–41. doi:10.1021/nn304584a. 
  32. ^ Carroll, GT; Pollard, MM; van Delden, RA; Feringa, BL (2010). "Controlled rotary motion of light-driven molecular motors assembled on a gold surface". Chemical Science. 1 (1): 97–101. doi:10.1039/C0SC00162G. 
  33. ^ "Light-induced Translation of Motorized Molecules on a Surface". ACS Nano. 2016. doi:10.1021/acsnano.6b05650. 
  34. ^ Tour, J. M. "Conjugated Macromolecules of Precise Length and Constitution. Organic Synthesis for the Construction of Nanoarchitectures". Chem. Rev. 1996 (96): 537–553. doi:10.1021/cr9500287. 
  35. ^ James Tour's Bio at James M Tour Group website
  36. ^ "Patents by Inventor James M. Tour". Justia Patent Search. Retrieved 2016-06-17. 
  37. ^ "All Publications by James M. Tour". James M. Tour Group. Retrieved 2016-06-17. 
  38. ^ Musser, George (November 2001). "Better Killing through Chemistry: Buying chemical weapons material through the mail is quick and easy". Scientific American. Retrieved 2007-09-06. 
  39. ^ a b c d e Kenneth Chang (2006-02-21). "Few Biologists but Many Evangelicals Sign Anti-Evolution Petition". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  40. ^ "Signatories of 'A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism'" (PDF). The Discovery Institute. April 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  41. ^ a b Layman’s Reflections on Evolution and Creation. An Insider’s View of the Academy
  42. ^ Strobel, Lee (2000), The Case For Faith, p. 111, ISBN 0-310-23469-7 
  43. ^ "Current NAI Fellows 2015". National Academy of Inventors. Retrieved 2016-06-17. 
  44. ^ http://www.thebestschools.org/features/50-influential-scientists-world-today/
  45. ^ http://www.rdmag.com/news/2013/11/r-d-magazine-announces-2013-scientist-year
  46. ^ Resume of James M. Tour, Ph.D.
  47. ^ Signatories of 'A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism'
  48. ^ Doubts Over Evolution Mount With Over 300 Scientists Expressing Skepticism With Central Tenet of Darwin's Theory
  49. ^ Forrest, Barbara (May 2007), Understanding the Intelligent Design Creationist Movement: Its True Nature and Goals. A Position Paper from the Center for Inquiry, Office of Public Policy (PDF), Washington, D.C.: Center for Inquiry, Inc., retrieved 2007-08-06 .
  50. ^ Does Seattle group "teach controversy" or contribute to it? Linda Shaw. The Seattle Times, March 31, 2005.

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