Water conducts electricity, but the process by which this familiar fluid passes along positive charges has puzzled scientists for decades.
But in a paper published in the Dec. 2 issue of the journal Science, an international team of researchers has finally caught water in the act — showing how water molecules pass along excess charges and, in the process, conduct electricity.
“This fundamental process in chemistry and biology has eluded a firm explanation,” said co-author Anne McCoy, professor of chemistry. “And now we have the missing piece that gives us the bigger picture: how protons essentially ‘move’ through water.”
The team was led by Mark Johnson, senior author and a professor at Yale University. For over a decade, Johnson, McCoy and two co-authors — Professors Kenneth Jordan at the University of Pittsburgh and Knut Asmis at Leipzig University — have collaborated to understand how molecules in complex arrangements pass along charged particles.
Read the full UW News story here. To learn more about Professor McCoy and her research, visit her faculty page and research group website.
Recent work by Associate Professor David Masiello and colleagues was highlighted in a November 7 article in Nature Photonics. The research was also highlighted in Chemical & Engineering News and in a News & Views feature article in Nature Photonics.
Measurement of the two distinct components—scattering and absorption—of a single nanoscale object’s optical extinction provides fundamentally important and complementary information on how that object processes light: either scattering it back to the far-field or converting it into internal excitation. Today, various techniques exist to measure the scattering from individual nanoscale objects, all relying on the detection of scattered photons in regions of zero background. Measuring their absorption, however, is much more complicated due to the fundamental inability to detect extremely small reductions in transmission over statistical fluctuations in the number of photons. This means that the spectroscopic signature of the vast majority of molecules—specifically, those that are transformed into dark states through photoreactions—is difficult to access.
To overcome this challenge, researchers in the Masiello group and the Goldsmith group at the University of Wisconsin–Madison devised a new experimental route to measure the absorption spectra of individual, nonemissive nanoscale objects by photothermal contrast in an optical microresonator cavity.
Photothermal spectroscopies function by inferring an object’s absorption from the localized temperature increase and resulting refractive index inhomogeneity produced by the excited object’s nonradiative decay. In their work, the team coupled individual plasmonic nanorods to an ultrahigh-quality optical microresonator cavity and succeeded in determining the nanorod’s absorption spectrum by monitoring the temperature-dependent attometer shifts in the resonance frequency of microresonator’s whispering gallery modes. These exceedingly small but detectable resonance shifts correspond to temperature increases of ~100 nK (measured at room temperature!), making their absorption spectrometer simultaneously one of the world’s best thermometers. Suprisingly, the nanorod’s absorption spectrum revealed a dense array of sharp Fano interferences arising from its interaction with the whispering gallery modes of the microresonator, allowing the team to deeply explore the hybridization of plasmonic and photonic cavity modes.
This collaborative effort brought together the creativity and talents of several graduate students and postdocs in multiple departments between the two institutions. The results were achieved following years of hard work involving both theorists and experimentalists. Future directions will explore the feasibility of this system to serve as a platform for studying quantum physics at room temperature.
To learn more about Professor Masiello and his research, visit his faculty page and research group website.
Assistant Professor AJ Boydston has been named a 2016 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar by The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation. The Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Awards Program supports the research and teaching careers of talented young faculty in the chemical sciences. Based on institutional nominations, the program provides discretionary funding to faculty at an early stage in their careers. Criteria for selection include an independent body of scholarship attained within the first five years of their appointment as independent researchers, and a demonstrated commitment to education, signaling the promise of continuing outstanding contributions to both research and teaching. The Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Awards Program provides an unrestricted research grant of $75,000.
To learn more about the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Awards Program, please visit the Dreyfus Foundation website. To learn more about Prof. Boydston, please visit his website and research group page.
Robert Synovec, Professor and Associate Chair for Graduate Education, is the recipient of the 2016 Marcel Golay Award. The Marcel Golay Award was created by PerkinElmer in honor of Marcel Jules Eduard Golay, the inventor of capillary columns. It is presented to a scientist in recognition of a lifetime of achievement in capillary chromatography. Prof. Synovec is being recognized for his “outstanding investigations in the areas of complex mixture analysis, multidimensional chromatography instrumentation design, and chemometrics uses for analytical separations.” The award will be given at the 40th International Symposium on Capillary Chromatography, in Riva del Garda, Italy, May 31- June 3, 2016.
To learn more about Professor Synovec and his research, visit his faculty page and research group site.
Assistant Professor Brandi Cossairt has received a CAREER (Faculty Early Career Development) Award from the National Science Foundation. The CAREER Program is a Foundation-wide program that “offers the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.” Professor Cossairt received the award for her research proposal, “CAREER: New Models for Controlling InP Nucleation, Growth, and Luminescence using Magic-Sized Clusters and Targeted Surface Chemistry”. Research conducted under this CAREER award aims to address the fundamental challenges in controlling the composition and interfaces of nanomaterials with atom-level precision. Experimental approaches include:
1) testing new models of InP nucleation using isolable, structurally characterized and atomically precise magic-sized cluster intermediates;
2) understanding how surface chemistry impacts the structure and function of InP magic-sized clusters to gain access to general strategies for anisotropic shape control and doping; and
3) discovering new post-synthetic surface chemistry to turn-on and color-tune the luminescence of InP and related QDs using Lewis acid coordination chemistry.
Additionally, the project aims to advance educational goals, including creating an undergraduate specialization in Chemistry for Energy at the University of Washington (UW), developing hands-on demonstration materials and workshops on the topic of colloidal nanoscience targeted to middle and high school students in collaboration with the UW Phi Lambda Upsilon (National Chemistry Honor Society) chapter, and broadening participation in chemistry at the undergraduate, graduate and professional level through work with several organizations.
For more information about this NSF CAREER Award, please visit the award website.
For more information about Brandi Cossairt and her research program, please visit her faculty page and research group site.
David Masiello, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, has been awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). President Barack Obama named 106 researchers as recipients of the award, granting them the U.S. government’s highest award for scientists and engineers in the early stages of their independent research careers.
Masiello received the award “for his cutting-edge research in the emerging field of theoretical molecular nanophotonics, and for his comprehensive educational and outreach programs including an exemplary focus on enhancing the scientific communication abilities of young researchers.” Masiello’s research group focuses on the development of novel, rigorous and computationally tractable theoretical descriptions of the structure and dynamics of nanoscale systems, as well as their interactions with the electromagnetic field.
PECASE recognizes scientists and engineers who show exceptional potential for leadership at the frontiers of scientific knowledge. Winners demonstrate the ability to broadly advance fundamental research and help the United States maintain its position as a leading producer of scientists and engineers. Masiello was one of three UW faculty members to receive this honor.
“The awardees are outstanding scientists and engineers,” said NSF Director France Córdova. “They are teacher-scholars who are developing new generations of outstanding scientists and engineers and ensuring this nation is a leading innovator. I applaud these recipients for their leadership, distinguished teaching and commitment to public outreach.”
To learn more about Professor Masiello and his research, please visit his faculty page and research group site.
Alvin Kwiram, Emeritus Professor and Emeritus Vice Provost for Research, has been awarded the 2015 Distinguished Retiree Excellence in Community Service Award. Professor Kwiram was nominated for his contributions for the benefit of the University and the greater community – most notably, his promotion of UW’s research strengths in areas of clean energy production and storage, leading to the $6 million grant from the Washington State Legislature in support of The Clean Energy Institute, along with countless hours serving on committees and advisory boards and bringing together business leaders for collaborative projects.
The Department of Chemistry congratulates Lecturer Andrea Carroll on her promotion to Senior Lecturer, effective September 16, 2015.
Dr. Carroll joined the Department of Chemistry as a full-time lecturer in Fall 2011 after having been an instructor in the general chemistry course since Fall of 2009. She has served as the general chemistry laboratory instructor, as well, since Fall of 2006, guiding the laboratory portion of the general chemistry series for approximately 3,000 students each year.
The Department of Chemistry congratulates Associate Professor Dustin Maly on his promotion to Professor, effective September 16, 2015.
The Maly group is interested in developing new chemical tools that will allow a greater quantitative understanding of cellular signaling than is possible with currently available methods. Using the tools of organic synthesis they are generating cell permeable small molecules that allow the activation or inactivation of specific signaling enzymes in living cells.
To learn more about Professor Maly’s research, please visit his faculty page and research group website.
The Department of Chemistry congratulates Associate Professor Xiaosong Li on his promotion to Professor, effective September 16, 2015.
Research in the Li group focuses on the development of low-scaling methods to resolve excited state properties of many-electron systems, both in the time and frequency domains. This work is complimented by, and finds uses in, the development of efficient methods for studying non-adiabatic dynamics in large-scale systems.
To learn more about Professor Li’s research, please visit his faculty page and research group website.