Department of Chemistry
Our research program uses lasers, electrical discharges and pulsed supersonic molecular beams to produce a variety of unusual molecules, ions, metal complexes and atomic or molecular clusters. The extreme conditions of the "synthesis" processes employed make it possible to produce strange molecular aggregates including metal atom nanoclusters, novel organometallic complexes (metal benzene sandwiches, metal-fullerenes), metal ions "solvated" by 1-30 water molecules, proton-bound dimers, or carbocations. These systems test fundamental concepts of chemical bonding and provide models for metal-metal or metal-ligand bonding, metal ion solvation and metal-adsorbate interactions, and additionally provide specific examples of proton-transfer or organic reaction intermediates as well as interstellar molecules. The ions or clusters produced are detected and size-selected with a specially-designed time-of-flight mass spectrometer and studied with UV-visible or infrared laser spectroscopy. Computational chemistry methods are employed to complement the experimental work. The combined spectroscopy measurements and computational work provides definitive answers about molecular structure, electronic structure, bonding energetics and the reactivity of these systems.