Chemistry is truly the central science and underpins much of the efforts of scientists and engineers to improve life for humankind. TheMIT Department of Chemistryis taking a leading role in discovering new chemical synthesis, catalysis, creating sustainable energy, theoretical and experimental understanding of chemistry, improving the environment, detecting and curing disease, developing materials new properties, and nanoscience.
The Chemistry Education Office staff is responsible for administering the educational programs in the Department of Chemistry. Students can find answers to many questions about the undergraduate and graduate programs on the department website, and they are encouraged to stop by and see the staff in the office located in 6-205.
The student-run outreach programs in the Department of Chemistry aim to bring the excitement of chemical sciences to the community through lively demonstrations designed to illustrate a broad range of chemical principles. Graduate students visit science classes in high schools and middle schools in the Greater Boston area with a view to demystifying chemistry through hands-on experiments. ClubChem, an undergraduate chemistry organization, conducts Chemistry Magic Shows for elementary schools and youth programs in the Greater Boston area.
Chemistry is truly the central science and underpins much of the efforts of scientists and engineers to improve life for humankind. MIT Chemistry is taking a leading role in discovering new chemical synthesis, catalysis, creating sustainable energy, theoretical and experimental understanding of chemistry at its most fundamental level, unraveling the biochemical complexities of natural systems, improving the environment, detecting and curing disease, developing materials new properties, and nanoscience.
Polyatomic molecules are like balls-and springs, yet eigenstates are stationary. Where has the intricate and beautiful dance of atoms gone and how do we recover movies of intramolecular dynamics from complicated line-spectra that are recorded in the frequency-domain? Is Intramolecular Vibrational Redistribution (IVR) a code for "I really don't know what is going on" or is it an explainable, cause-and-effect mechanistic process: where does the initially localized energy flow, how fast, and why? A complete description is like a telephone directory, true but unmemorable. Mechanism is insight, even if it is neither as true nor complete as a telephone directory.
How does an electron exchange energy and angular momentum with vastly more massive nuclei? Frequency- and time-domain spectra of Rydberg states can reveal the fundamental mechanisms of electron—nuclear interactions, provided that we learn how to recognize and interpret the characteristic patterns of these simple interactions rather than the more traditional but opaque state-by-state multi-digit molecular constants. When the periods of classical mechanical motions of electrons and nuclei are equal, "resonance" occurs and energy flow is rapid. How is resonance encoded in a spectrum? Can we design experiments to be explicitly sensitive to resonance or to use resonance for rational external control of intramolecular dynamics?
In Freshman Chemistry we teach/learn about the periodic table, and simple ideas about atomic electronic structure provide elegantly simple explanations for diverse properties of matter. Oxidation states emerge as a descriptive concept capable of making sense of a wide range of chemical and spectroscopic properties of metal-containing molecules. Yet, for metal-containing diatomic and triatomic molecules, both spectroscopists and ab initio quantum chemists seem to have no use for oxidation states. The spectra of these molecules are extremely complicated and understanding them will require unconventional spectroscopic techniques and heretical electronic structure models.
Tunable lasers, often two or three simultaneously, are used in Field's Current Research Group to investigate the structural and dynamical properties of small, gas phase molecules. Textbooks present a misleadingly simple picture of how spectroscopists extract information from spectra (which are never born with assignments attached). New, multiple-laser-based and chirped-pulse millimeter wave techniques are making it possible to decode prohibitively complex appearing spectra. Classical mechanics and pattern recognition are becoming important tools for extracting information from spectra.
Stimulated Emission Pumping (SEP) Pump-and-Dump spectroscopy, a technique invented at MIT, is providing unprecedented insights into the dynamics of small polyatomic molecules with chemically significant amounts of vibration-rotation excitation. Soon we will be able to uncover in a spectrum the same molecular gymnastics that an Organic Chemist envisions when she speaks of "1,2-hydrogen shifts." The quality, quantity, and simplicity of SEP spectra make it possible to exploit new pattern recognition schemes to extract short-time dynamics directly from frequency domain spectra.