Michael J. Therien


William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Chemistry

Our research involves the synthesis of compounds, supramolecular assemblies, nano-scale objects, and electronic materials with unusual ground-and excited-state characteristics, and interrogating these structures using state-of-the-art transient optical, spectroscopic, photophysical, and electrochemical methods. Over chemical dimensions that span molecules to materials, we probe experimental and theoretical aspects of charge migration reactions and ultrafast electron transfer processes. Insights into the structure-property relationships of molecular, nanoscale, and macroscopic materials allow us to fabricate polarizable and hyperpolarizable chromophores, structures for molecular electronics applications, optical limiters, and a wide range of other electrooptic and photonic materials that include novel conducting polymers, structures for solar energy conversion, and new platforms for in vivo optical imaging. Other efforts in our laboratory involve the elaborating de novo electron- and energy-transfer proteins, interrogating catalytic redox reactions, designing catalysts for small molecule activation, and developing new tools to manipulate nanoscale structures.

Appointments and Affiliations

  • William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Chemistry
  • Professor of Chemistry
  • Faculty Network Member of The Energy Initiative
  • Member of the Duke Cancer Institute

Contact Information


  • California Institute of Technology, 1990
  • Ph.D. University of California at San Diego, 1987
  • B.S. University of St. Andrews (Scotland), 1982

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions

  • Fellow. Flemish Academy of Arts and Sciences . 2009
  • International Francqui Chair. Belgium . 2008
  • AAAS Fellow. American Association for the Advancement of Science. 2005
  • Fellow. American Association for the Advancement of Science . 2005
  • American Chemical Society Philadelphia Section Award . American Chemical Society . 2004
  • Porphyrins and Phthalocyanines Young Investigator Award . Society of Porphyrins & Phthalocyanines . 2002
  • Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar . Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, Inc.. 1997
  • E. I. duPont de Nemours Young Faculty Award . DuPont. 1995
  • Sloan Research Fellowship-Chemistry. Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. 1995
  • National Science Foundation Young Investigator . National Science Foundation . 1993
  • Beckman Young Investigators (BYI). Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation. 1992
  • Scholars. Searle Scholars. 1991

Courses Taught

  • CHEM 393: Research Independent Study
  • CHEM 394: Research Independent Study
  • CHEM 493: Research Independent Study
  • CHEM 494: Research Independent Study
  • CHEM 521: Inorganic Chemistry
  • CHEM 590: Special Topics in Chemistry

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Belley, MD; Craciunescu, O; Chang, Z; Langloss, BW; Stanton, IN; Yoshizumi, TT; Therien, MJ; Chino, JP, Real-time dose-rate monitoring with gynecologic brachytherapy: Results of an initial clinical trial., Brachytherapy, vol 17 no. 6 (2018), pp. 1023-1029 [10.1016/j.brachy.2018.07.014] [abs].
  • Bai, Y; Bullard, G; Olivier, J-H; Therien, MJ, Quantitative Evaluation of Optical Free Carrier Generation in Semiconducting Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes., Journal of the American Chemical Society, vol 140 no. 44 (2018), pp. 14619-14626 [10.1021/jacs.8b05598] [abs].
  • Han, Q; Ding, J; Bai, Y; Li, T; Ma, J-Y; Chen, Y-X; Zhou, Y; Liu, J; Ge, Q-Q; Chen, J; Glass, JT; Therien, MJ; Mitzi, DB; Hu, J-S, Carrier Dynamics Engineering for High-Performance Electron-Transport-Layer-free Perovskite Photovoltaics, Chem, vol 4 no. 10 (2018), pp. 2405-2417 [10.1016/j.chempr.2018.08.004] [abs].
  • He, X; Velizhanin, KA; Bullard, G; Bai, Y; Olivier, J-H; Hartmann, NF; Gifford, BJ; Kilina, S; Tretiak, S; Htoon, H; Therien, MJ; Doorn, SK, Solvent- and Wavelength-Dependent Photoluminescence Relaxation Dynamics of Carbon Nanotube sp3 Defect States., Acs Nano, vol 12 no. 8 (2018), pp. 8060-8070 [10.1021/acsnano.8b02909] [abs].
  • Park, J; Park, TH; Sinks, LE; Deria, P; Baik, MH; Therien, MJ, Unusual solvent polarity dependent excitation relaxation dynamics of a bis[: P -ethynyldithiobenzoato]Pd-linked bis[(porphinato)zinc] complex, Molecular Systems Design & Engineering, vol 3 no. 1 (2018), pp. 275-284 [10.1039/c8me00001h] [abs].