Photochemistry, Photobiology and Photophysics

Professor Interests
Mark Gordon Development and application of new methods for excited states and photochemistry. Developments and applications in ab initio electronic structure theory, and its interface with dynamics, materials and biochemistry; accurate elucidation of complex structures and mechanisms in organic, materials and organometallic chemistry, in the gas phase, in solution and on surfaces; new methods for treating the effects of solvation, for interfacing electronic structure calculations with dynamics, for obtaining accurate wave functions and properties for large molecules, and for treating surface chemistry and the liquid-surface interface; continuing development of the quantum chemistry code GAMESS.
Wenyu Huang Plasmonic enhancement of activity and selectivity of catalysts. The objective is to develop a new strategy based on the strong electromagnetic field generated by photon irradiation of controlled plasmonic nanostructures to enhance the activity or selectivity of metal (i.e. Au, Ag, Cu, Pt, and Pd) catalysts. This new approach could provide energy-efficient ways to control the activity and selectivity of heterogeneous catalysis and reduces the energy consumption in current industrial processes.
William Jenks Interested in organic photochemistry, reactive intermediates, and sulfur chemistry. Photochemistry can be uniquely interesting from a mechanistic-organic or physical-organic perspective, because photochemical reactions allow study not only of starting materials and products, but quite often of the short-lived intermediates that we write to account for reactions. As a result, you can get a terrifically detailed picture of what is going on in a chemical reaction.
Igor Slowing The Slowing group designs multifunctional nanostructured materials to build smart hybrid organic-inorganic devices. We synthesize nanoparticles with precise control of morphology and surface properties, and incorporate organic and inorganic groups at specific domains of the particles.
Jacob Petrich We are interested in understanding fundamental chemical processes such as hydrogen atom transfer, investigating and development of light-induced antiviral and antitumor agents, understanding ligand binding in novel hemeproteins, and exploiting nonnatural amino acids to study protein structure and dynamics. Recently we have become involved in developing sensitive devices for the detection of environmental contaminants, in particular for use in food safety and health applications. We have most recently developed, patented, and licensed a technology based on fluorescence detection for use in the real-time identification of contaminated meat products. Until now, food inspection has been carried out either by eye on isolated samples or by time-consuming biochemical laboratory procedures. Our device simply applies good physical/analytical chemistry ideas to this enormously practical and important problem. We are currently working on developing techniques to detect in real-time factors related to transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) - that is, factors related to mad cow, Creutzfeldt-Jakob, or related diseases.
Xueyu Song The research interest focuses on the application and development of theoretical and computational tools for the study of chemical reactions in chemical and biochemical systems. Currently, they are developing theories of electron transfer in solutions and inhomogeneous materials, solvent effects on chemical reactions in condensed phases, solvation dynamics in protein environments and theory of protein crystallization.
Javier Vela The group is interested in the fabrication, characterization and properties of novel hetero-structured nanomaterials. Our aim is to develop unique materials and composites that are useful in solving important problems in renewable energy (energy generation, conversion, and storage), catalysis, and biological imaging and tracking.
Theresa Windus Modern theoretical and computational chemical science is a confluence of mathematics, physics, computer science, chemistry and sometimes biology. It is at the interface between these disciplines where many of the most exciting new developments in the field are being made. The scientific questions being asked demand much more from the theories, the computational algorithms and the scientist's chemical intuition than in previous years. Toward this end, our group has been exploring, developing, and using methods for obtaining accurate information about excited state potential energy surfaces, their crossings with other surfaces and nonadiabatic dynamics. For example, our recent work has examined the complex reactions of molecular and atomic oxygen with ethylene and the solvent organization of photoexcited coumarins. We are also performing benchmark calculations to compare with less expensive levels of theory to determine their applicability and extensibility for these types of systems.
Arthur Winter The lab uses techniques in physical organic chemistry to tackle challenging problems in medicine. Theory and experiment are used in concert to develop robust, widely applicable tools for biological and biomedical applications.
Yan Zhao The biological world has unparalleled abilities to control structures, functions, reactions, and energy transfer with great efficiency and accuracy. They are interested in biomimetic chemistry to "abstract good design from nature." One of their main research goals is to design molecules that functionally mimic certain biological systems, and in turn to prepare molecules, polymers, and materials that have useful and superior properties.