Dr. Lennox E. Iton
Chemist - Materials Scientist


Dr. Iton grew up on the island of St. Vincent in the West Indies, and attended the Boys grammar School there.  He obtained a B.Sc with First Class Honours in Chemistry from McGill University in Montreal in 1970. He did his graduate work in the group of Professor John Turkevich at Princeton University, receiving a Ph. D. in Chemistry in 1976. His thesis research was on electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy studies of hydrogen atoms trapped and stabilized in solids, and of rare earth ions exchanged in nanoporous crystalline zeolites.

He has co-authored over 80 publications. In 1990, he received the DOE-BES Materials Sciences Award for work in Materials Chemistry with Significant Implications for Department of Energy-Related Technologies. In 1997, he shared the first PNGV (Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles) Award from the Department of Commerce and The Society of Automotive Engineers.

Dr. Iton joined Argonne National Laboratory in 1975 where he worked initially on applications of nuclear magnetic resonance to the study of adsorbates and catalysts. Since 1978, his work has involved many aspects of molecular sieve materials research, including crystallization and growth mechanisms, advanced characterizations of structure, bonding and dynamics, adsorbate structure and dynamics, cluster encapsulation, computer simulation and quantum chemical theory, and intracrystalline catalysis mechanisms. He introduced the technique of extended x-ray absorption fine structure spectroscopy (EXAFS) to the study of cation bonding and complexation in molecular sieve zeolites, and introduced the technique of small-angle neutron scattering to the study of gel crystallization mechanisms in zeolite synthesis.

His current interests include the synthesis of ordered mesoporous materials based on self-assembled templating aggregates, the incorporation of electronic, magnetic, and photoactive characteristics in mesoporous material frameworks, and the formulation of nanocomposites with encapsulated inorganics, metallic nanoparticles, organic aggregates, and biomolecules.

At home, Dr. Lennox is very active in his community. He has two sons-- one in high school and the other at the University of Illinois (UIUC). For more details about his interests and community work see  Lennox’s own description below:


“I am a widower with two sons; my wife was killed in an automobile accident with a drunk driver in 1990.  My sons, Blair and Kyle, were aged 3 and 7 years old at the time, so I often characterize myself as a “single mother”.  My older son is now a senior at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, studying mechanical engineering and computer science.  My younger son is a high school junior (update: 2nd year Civil engineering student).  I have a keen interest in current affairs and foreign policy, and in the discourse between science and religion.  I am also interested in peace and justice issues, and I am very active in volunteer mission work.  I was a founding member of one of the Habitat for Humanity affiliates in Chicago, and I have worked on several Habitat projects both in the city and more recently in Du Page County where I reside.  I work regularly at an overnight shelter for the homeless in Du Page County, and I have worked in the Rebuilding Together program in poor neighborhoods in Chicago.  I have also made two work trips to Central America, working in rural villages in Honduras.  Of the various tasks that I did there, I am most proud of my latrine building, though my handiwork is now buried underground.  My volunteer mission work is usually done in connection with the church in which I am an active member.  Perhaps working in underdeveloped countries will be my calling at the end of my scientific career.  I have a love of a wide variety of forms of music, from classical to calypso; this even includes some of the hip-hop music that my sons enjoy.  I learned to play the violin as a youth, and later converted to playing rock music on the violin.  This has given me very many hours of pleasure, particularly before I had a family.  I play much less now, but I recently bought an electric violin to experiment with some new sounds.  Although my own playing days did not go beyond my teens, I am a keen fan of sports, if not of Chicago’s sports teams.  My favorite sports as a youth were cricket, soccer (football), and track and field, not the top sports in this country; but I quickly became enamored of ice hockey while living in Montreal, and of baseball and football when I moved to the U.S.A.  Unfortunately, I am an armchair fan only”


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