Physical chemistry is concerned with the underlying scientific fundamentals which control processes involving atoms and molecules in gases, liquids, solids, and at surfaces. Often in physical chemical investigations, theory and experiment intersect in a powerful manner. The University of Virginia program in physical chemistry involves a wide variety of physical measurement techniques aimed at biological, condensed phase, and gas phase systems, combined with advanced theoretical and computational modeling. NMR, ESR, and XRD methods are widely employed and developed to investigate nucleic acids, proteins and membranes [Bryant; Bushweller; Cafiso; Columbus; Grisham; Mura; and Utz]. Studies of molecules excited in molecular beams and liquids, and of chemistry in helium nanodroplets, are being advanced by the development of novel spectroscopic techniques, such as broad band FT m-wave and cavity ring down spectroscopies (Lehmann; Pate). Surface and catalytic chemistry are explored using a wide variety of surface measurement techniques including STM, IR, ESDIAD, photochemistry and LEEM combined with theory [Harrison; Neurock; and Yates]. In addition, neutron activation and x-ray fluorescence are combined to study environmental, forensic, and archeological materials [Allen]. Statistical mechanical and quantum theory is applied to the study of condensed phases (supercritical fluids) [Egorov], and the computational modeling of reactions is underway [Trindle]. A new collaborative program, Chemistry of the Universe, involves spectroscopists and surface chemists [Lehmann, Pate and Yates] working with radioastronomers and physicists at UVa and elsewhere to understand the chemical mechanisms of molecule production in the gas and dust clouds of the universe.
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