Teaching

Physical Chemistry Lab I (AS.030.305)

Offered in the Fall Semester

Course Description:

This course is designed to illustrate the principles of physical chemistry and to introduce the student to techniques and instruments used in modern chemical research. The course involves conducting experiments, practicing data analysis, and constructing lab reports as a means of becoming a more proficient scientist. The goals of the course include:

  • Introducing how to make and compare quantitative measurements to one another and to theoretical predictions using proper error analysis: By the end of this course, the student should be able to justify their experimental conclusions properly using error analysis and consider critically the importance and veracity of others’ conclusions.

  • Stressing the use of written reports to describe the students’ experiments and summarize their conclusions: Learning to write well-organized and coherent accounts of research activities is important to future success in science at all levels.

  • Familiarizing students with the use various apparatus for carrying out research experiment: This course should start the student on their way to obtaining experience they need to develop good “lab hands” for their future endeavors – that is, learning how to work with complicated experimental apparatus cautiously, competently, and with common sense, rather than cavalierly or fraught with intimidation.

  • Bolstering the student’s understanding of many topics in physical chemistry that were discussed in the lecture course (primarily thermodynamics).

Pre-Requisites:
  • Physical Chemistry I (AS.030.301) or equivalent
Required Texts:
  1. Experiments in Physical Chemistry: Garland, Nibler, & Shoemaker, 8th Edition, ISBN: 9780072828429
  2. Introduction to Real Analysis: Taylor, 2nd Edition, ISBN: 9780935702750

Molecular Photophysics and Photochemistry (AS.030.630)

Spring 2019

Course Description:

This course will introduce fundamental physical, chemical, and analytical concepts underlying light-induced chemical and (molecular-based) material processes. We will explore the characterization of optical properties and their connection to photochemical and photophysical dynamics; propensities/selection rules for specific photophysical or photochemical processes, their underlying principles, and how they depend on chemical structure; and methods for interrogating mechanisms of photoinduced processes. The foundational material covered in the first several weeks of the class will be supported by numerous well-studied case studies. The final weeks of this course will build from these core concepts to survey molecular photoresponses and their consequences or applications in areas ranging, e.g., materials science, chemical biology, and environmental chemistry.

Through bridging content covered in coursework for various sub-disciplines of chemistry (e.g. spectroscopy, kinetics, physical organic chemistry, materials, etc.), this course aims to serve students with wide-ranging research interests with a focused introduction to foundational concepts and topics on which they can build specialized expertise in photophysics and photochemistry in their own research.

Pre-Requisites:
  • Physical Chemistry I and II (AS.030.301-302) or equivalent
  • Previous or concurrent concentrated study of Quantum Mechanics (graduate level or a physics course) would be helpful, but is not strictly required.

Required Texts:

Turro, Ramamurthy, and Scaiano’s Principles of Molecular Photochemistry: An Introduction (University Science Books) is a classic and is strongly recommended for this class. This text focuses primarily on the photophysics/photochemistry of organic molecules, but its presentation of fundamental concepts and relationships is invaluable.

Additional reading material for this course will include a combination of notes, excerpts from other texts, review articles, and seminal/exemplary research papers. An undergraduate-level physical chemistry textbook with an introduction to basic ideas in quantum mechanics and spectroscopy will be an excellent resource for this course (e.g., McQuarrie’s Quantum Chemistry, but also Atkins, Levine, Engel, etc.). In many cases I will provide supplementary notes for topics discussed in class. Links to appropriate journals will be included on the course Blackboard website.


Methods in Time-Resolved Spectroscopy (AS.030.693)

Last offered Fall 2016

Course Description:

Much contemporary research in physically-oriented areas of chemistry seeks to understand the underpinnings of complex reaction pathways, the functional characteristics of molecular-based devices, and the optical or photophysical properties of novel materials. These avenues of investigation increasingly rely on the utilization of spectroscopic techniques that can resolve details of key molecular processes on relevant timescales, or interrogate high-order material responses to interaction with light.

In this course we will survey common time-dependent spectroscopic methods used to interrogate such dynamic and static properties of chemical and material systems. We will explore theoretical treatments of key molecular processes (e.g. radiative and non-radiative transitions, solvation, and coherence dephasing) and the spectroscopic tools available for interrogating them. Although many approaches that we will discuss work quite generally over various ranges of timescales, we will focus more specifically on developments in the femtosecond and picosecond regimes – the timescales over which very fundamental steps in chemical processes occur and available light sources have adequate intensities for inducing non-linear behaviors. Furthermore, we will survey the technical developments that are now allowing us to capture events that occur on ever faster timescales (currently down to the attosecond regime), and across the electromagnetic spectrum (from X-rays to Terahertz).

A key “gateway” concept discussed heavily in this course is the connection between the time-dependence of quantum mechanical coherences and spectroscopic transitions. Although many spectroscopic techniques can be rationalized in terms of population transfer between molecular levels, many modern techniques simply cannot. Therefore, a main goal of this course is to introduce and develop your intuition with a modern picture of spectroscopy seldom available from intermediate-level texts.

Pre-Requisites:
  • Physical Chemistry I and II (AS.030.301-302) or equivalent
  • Previous or concurrent concentrated study of Quantum Mechanics (graduate level or a physics course) would be helpful, but is not strictly required.

Required Texts:

An undergraduate physical chemistry textbook with an introduction to basic ideas in quantum mechanics and spectroscopy will be an excellent resource for this course (e.g., McQuarrie, Atkins, Levine, Engel, etc.). Supplemental resources will be distributed or have links to them provided throughout the course and a complete list of references used for the lecture material is included in the syllabus.