Wesley D. Allen, associate professor in the department of chemistry, is conducting research as a Mercator-fellow at the Institute for Organic Chemistry at Justus Liebig University Giessen (JLU). With the Mercator program the German Research Foundation (DFG) promotes the intensive and long-term exchange of researchers as “fellows” within the context of projects both nationally and internationally. Allen’s work supports the priority program “Control of London dispersion interactions in molecular chemistry,” promoted by the DFG.
The objective of the research team is to better understand London dispersion interactions – the attractive forces between molecules or atoms – in molecular systems, to quantify those forces and to specifically use them. Because individual London forces are weak, they have long been underestimated. However, their collective behavior provides a fundamental driving force of molecular aggregation and accounts for the unusual stability of many molecules. Among other phenomena, London dispersion plays a central role in identifying molecules, in chemical selectivity through the stabilization of transition states during chemical reactions, in protein folding, and in enzyme catalysis.
Dr. Allen’s research is focused on theoretical development and chemical applications of molecular quantum mechanics. He will stay at JLU until the end of July. Allen served as a visiting professor at JLU in 2014.