Welcome to the laboratory of nanoclusters and spectroscopy of anions

Chemistry is the science of matter and its transformation. In our laboratory, we create new forms of matter, called nanoclusters, and study their structures and properties one atom at a time. Clusters are aggregates of atoms that can be formed from any metal or nonmetal elements in either pure or mixed forms. We produce clusters of varying size and composition and study their size-dependent properties using anion photoelectron spectroscopy and theoretical calculations. Properties of clusters depend on their size and shape, forming the foundation of nanoscience. Nanoclusters can be used as well-defined molecular models to answer mechanistic questions in catalysis. Clusters also provide a new medium to discover novel molecules with interesting structures and uncommon chemical bonding. Highly stable clusters, such as the fullerenes (carbon clusters), can form building blocks for cluster-assembled nanomaterials. We aim at discovering stable clusters and are interested in their potential bulk syntheses.

Another major research interest in our laboratory concerns probing solution chemistry in the gas phase. Anions from solution samples are transported into a high vacuum environment using a technique called electrospray ionization, and their intrinsic electronic structures are investigated using high-resolution photoelectron imaging. The Wang lab first introduced the technique of electrospray ionization into spectroscopy to investigate multiply-charged anions in the gas phase. We have now developed the third-generation electrospray-photoelectron spectroscopy apparatus by combining cryogenic ion cooling with high-resolution velocity-map photoelectron imaging. We are interested in inorganic metal complexes, redox species, biologically-relevant molecules, and organic anions, in particular, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and their derivatives.

The Wang lab consists of a group of dynamic physical chemists, including graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, visiting scientists, and undergraduate students. Group members work collaboratively to solve cutting edge scientific and technical problems in physical chemistry and chemical physics. We design and construct new experimental apparatuses to study nanoclusters and anions from solution samples. Students will build skills in problem-solving, instrument design, and computational methods, as well as gaining experiences in a number of modern experimental techniques, such as laser-vaporization cluster beams, electrospray ionization, time-of-flight mass spectrometry, cryogenic ion trap and cooling, lasers, photoelectron spectroscopy, and high-resolution velocity-map imaging.