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Faculty & Research
Chemists study properties of matter at the atomic, molecular, and nanometer scale, and distill complex behavior into principles that provide a broad, predictive description of how matter behaves. This conceptual thinking in chemistry is of broad scientific and technological importance, because it seeks to link biological, inorganic or organic matter’s smallest building blocks and internal forces with macroscopic phenomena relevant to industrial products and practice, miniaturization of technology, biological function and disease, sensing and analysis, energy transport and storage, and light-matter interactions. The range of length and time scale over which chemists study matter’s processes is enormous: from kinetics and mechanisms of collective molecular systems that might occur over seconds to redistribution of electrons in a single molecule that occurs in less than a femtosecond. In addition, chemists probe dynamic and static molecular structures, because they are clues to understanding and predicting how chemical systems react and interact. Finally, whereas aspects of chemistry are similar to other physical sciences, chemistry is different in that we also seek to create new forms of molecules and materials. Indeed, the science of synthetic chemistry doesn’t have a parallel in physics or biology.
There is a vast frontier of unknown chemical structures and novel reactivity that awaits discovery. Without chemists to synthesize new molecules and materials, this unexplored matter doesn’t exist. This creation of new molecular matter with intriguing and useful properties and the discovery of new molecular phenomena constitute the very core of the discipline of chemistry.