USP - Universidade de São Paulo
Universidade de São Paulo

Francisco Carlos Nart

* 26/09/1958       + 29/09/2006


Francisco Carlos Nart

(By Prof. Luis Alberto Avaca)

Prof. Francisco Carlos Nart (or simply “Chico” as he liked to be called by his friends) was born on the 26th of September of 1958 in Rio Negrinho, Santa Catarina, Brazil and died in an air accident that occurred in Northern Mato Grosso, Brazil, on Sunday 29 September, 2006, when returning from an academic mission at the Federal University of Amazonas in Manaus. The picture above was taken during his recent participation in the ISE meeting in Edinburgh.

His scientific career started in 1984 when he graduated as a Chemical Engineer from the Federal University of São Carlos and began his electrochemical studies for a MSc degree at the Chemistry Department of the same university working on modelling of passive films with Prof. C.V D’Alkaine. In 1987 he moved to the Chemistry Institute of the University of São Paulo at São Carlos for his PhD studies which focussed on “in situ” electrochemical surface spectroscopy with emphasis on adsorption and electrocatalysis. His supervisor was Prof. E.R. Gonzalez and part of his experimental work was carried out at the University of Bonn working with Prof. Dr. W. Vielstich and Dr. T. Iwasita. In the same year (1987) he was appointed as an Assistant Lecturer at the same Institute where, after a successful period working in Physical Electrochemistry, he occupied several academic positions until becoming a Full Professor in 2002. At present, he was the Head of the Physical Chemistry Department.

His collaboration with Dr. T. Iwasita continued after his PhD in 1991 resulting in several important publications related to the adsorption of oxygen-containing anions on poly- and mono-crystalline metal electrodes using group theory for the interpretation of IR and FTIR spectra. At the same time, he started studies of conjugated conductive polymers in collaboration with Dr. I. Hummelgen from the Federal University of Parana and Prof. J. Gruber from the University of São Paulo. This also resulted in relevant publications in the field.

In 1998 he decided to restart studies in electrocatalysis and used a research grant to construct a Differential Electrochemical Mass Spectrometry (DEMS) system in São Carlos. Furthermore, he decided that knowledge of surface reactivity under ultra-vacuum conditions was essential to understand electrocatalysis and spent more than a year working with Prof. C. Friend in the Surface Chemistry Laboratory of the University of Harvard.

These two activities allowed “Chico” to become a Brazilian reference for the understanding of electrocatalysis in terms of adsorbed intermediates and reaction products for a variety of reactions. In the following years, he continued the studies above and become interested in anodic fuel-cell reactions involving alcohols and the correlation between catalyst activity and particle size. This last subject gave “Chico” the opportunity of showing very interesting results in a nice oral presentation during the last ISE meeting in Edinburgh.

His scientific contributions during that relatively short career involve more than 80 publications in well-rated journals, collaboration in 8 book chapters as well as the supervision of 9 MSc and 14 PhD students. In addition, he was a member of several scientific societies including ISE, where he was a candidate for Chair Elect of Division 7 in the next forthcoming election.

His absence will certainly be deeply felt by his family (he has left his wife Tânia and two young children), by the electrochemical community as a whole and by us, his colleagues at the Institute in São Carlos, that were accustomed to see “Chico” as a future prominent figure in Brazilian chemistry due to his highly-rated personal and academic credentials.