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We are a nanoparticle synthesis group in the Department of Chemistry at Vanderbilt University. Myself and my students contribute fundamental knowledge to problems in green energy and catalysis, and we are facinated by the potential of nanotechnology.

Our research focuses on preparing new nanoparticles for applications in catalysis, photocatalysis and non-linear optics. We do this by paying close attention to the role of the surface chemsitry and ligands on nanocrystals, examining the nuances of the synthetic mechanism of how nanocrystals form in soltuion, and finding clever ways to make exciting crystalline phases and materials that don’t exist in the bulk or simply have never been formed before.

Every day, we synthesize nanocrsytals in our chemistry laboratory using variatons on traditional chemistry techniques one might have first learned in an organic chemsitry laboratory course. The similarities end there.

My students take the tiny crystals to the electron microscope, where they can see what they made. They can achieve magnifications so high, they often can image lines from the lattice of the atomic crystal structures. Elemental mapping techniques show them on the nanoscale where all the different elements are in their crystals. The goal is to understand how the conditons of the syntheses are changing the compoisiton, shape, atomic structre and size of the nanocrystals. We explore how that structure influences and improves the ability of these nanocrystals to absorb and fluoresce light and to perform catalytic reactions.

Our overarching goal is to be innovators in how to make cool small stuff.