At MIT we are extending the frontiers of Physical Chemistry, especially its connections with other disciplines. Research in the department redefines modern Physical Chemistry. It ranges from fundamental studies of isolated molecules, condensed phases, and biochemical systems; applied research on topics that include solar energy conversion, photonic switching, LEDs, quantum dot devices, catalysis, and chemosensors; and the development of advanced spectroscopic methods from the NMR, chirped pulse millimeter wave, and X-ray regimes and from ultraslow to ultrafast
Physical Chemistry research covers a wide range of systems. Experimental and theoretical work features nanomaterials and devices, biophysical chemistry, atmospheric and environmental chemistry, the use of high resolution rovibronic spectra to characterize transition states, single molecule and single quantum dot spectroscopy, and condensed phase molecular dynamics. Prominent research topics include reaction dynamics in the gas phase, in solution, in the solid-state, and at interfaces; study of the physical properties and material applications of soft condensed phases, such as photosynthetic light harvesting systems and organic semiconductor interfaces; the solid state chemistry of semiconductor nanoparticles, ferroelectrics, and metal surfaces; and development of novel energy sources and storage media. The interdisciplinary nature of the research has led to extensive collaborations among chemists in the department, and with groups in physics, biology, materials science, and electrical engineering, and research groups from all over the world. In MIT's highly interactive environment, many physical chemistry students become closely acquainted with researchers and methods used in other disciplines.
Advances in understanding chemical problems have always gone hand-in-hand with advances in newly available technologies. A special strength of the Department has been the pioneering of new spectroscopic techniques. 2D IR spectroscopy, single-molecule spectroscopy, nonlinear terahertz spectroscopy, femtosecond x-ray scattering and inelastic electron scattering are new techniques being developed and used in condensed phase research. The nuclear and electronic dynamics of isolated molecules, molecular liquids, and crystalline solids are revealed by multi-laser, chirped pulse millimeter wave, and femtosecond pump-probe spectroscopies. At MIT's Francis Bitter Magnet Lab, new approaches to biophysical problems exploit advanced solid-state NMR and EPR spectroscopy.
Physical Chemistry at MIT is thriving. It spans systems from simple to complex, from intuitive “big picture” mechanism to rigorous full-dimension description, from free evolution to purposeful external control, as well as new classes of materials, new strategies for design, assembly, and control.