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Current Research

My most recent research efforts have involved the use of photoacoustic Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR-PAS) to
  1. classify and identify pollens
  2. investigate the surface chemistry of YBCO, a high temperature superconductor.

Currently I am directing one student who is applying chemometric techniques to assess differences among the spectra of various pollens.

As a physical chemist I am interested in studying the role that weak complex formation may play in facilitating some reactions. As a preliminary step in understanding this role students under my direction have been employing a variety of experimental and computational techniques to learn about the structures, energetics, and spectral properties of both weak complexes (held together by London forces) and stronger complexes (held together by hydrogen bonds). Two areas I have investigated in the past include:

  1. A Computational and Infrared Spectroscopic Study of Hydrogen Bonding in the Gas Phase. As early as the late 1930's workers were able to use infrared spectroscopy to measure the equilibrium constant for the dissociation of acetic acid dimers in the gas phase. By measuring how temperature affects this equilibrium constant it is possible to estimate the enthalpy change for the reaction (van't Hoff's equation) and relate that quantity to the energy of the hydrogen bonds holding the dimer together. One student repeated that early work using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. In addition he used a computational program (Spartan) to study the structures and energies for various geometric arrangements the dimer might assume.
  2. Amine Haloalkane Donor Acceptor Complexes. It is known that amines form weak complexes with alkyl halides. It has been suggested that these complexes take part in the photochemical and thermal reactions that mixtures of amines and alkyl halides undergo. Absorption spectroscopy, gas chromatography, and other techniques have been used to determine the equilibrium constants for complex formation, but in many cases with large uncertainties. I would like to apply additional techniques to investigate these equilibria and FTIR spectroscopy to study how these species interact with surfaces.

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