Physical & Theoretical Chemistry

Should you become a physical chemist? The answer is yes if you wish to understand how things work at the atomic level, where one must deal with the quantum-mechanical reality of nature. We want to extract the essential physics responsible for bulk (ob8servable) chemical behavior and develop simple pictures that everyone can use. This is the tradition established in our department by J. Willard Gibbs, continued by Lars Onsager, and carried on today. Building upon an expanding ability to decode structure and dynamics at the most elementary level, physical chemistry strives to address emerging issues of molecular complexity and self-assembly, including the fabrication of nanoscale devices and machines that are subject to the fundamental limitations of quantum mechanics. To address such challenges, we must develop tools to unravel and predict diverse phenomena that form the building blocks of higher molecular complexity, for example, reversible chemical bonding and energy/charge conduction through large molecular networks. As always, work at the forefront demands a close interaction between theory and experiment. Our department has a particularly balanced approach, exploiting whatever it takes to achieve research goals – “real theory,” dynamical simulations, NMR, ultrafast laser kinetics, nonlinear optical spectroscopy, size-selected clusters, and even synthesis! The multifaceted training afforded by this eclectic approach has served our graduates well over the years. If your interest has been piqued, then do come join us!

List of Faculty
Victor S. Batista
R. James Cross, Jr.
Gary L. Haller
Francesco Iachello
Mark A. Johnson
Charles A. Schmuttenmaer
John C. Tully
Patrick H. Vaccaro
Kurt W. Zilm

See Also
Richard Baxter
William L. Jorgensen
J. Patrick Loria
Elsa Yan