SCRANTON, Pa., Nov. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- For the first time, an innovative research technique successfully completed a detailed measurement of how heat energy is created at the molecular level, an approach that could have far- reaching implications for developing nano-devices in health care, computer and other industries. Research results, published in the October 15 issue of "Science," detail a collaborative effort involving The University of Scranton, a Jesuit university in Pennsylvania, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a research institution in Illinois. "This is the first time that anyone has measured how a specific motion of a molecule on one side of a molecular wall causes molecules within the wall to move," said John Deak, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry at The University of Scranton. "In nanotechnology, researchers design materials whose properties originate in clusters of molecules on the nanometer level. This research can be used to help us better understand how molecules interact on these dimensions." "The experiment detailed the pathways for energy transfer and also provided the tools to study other molecules," said Dana Dlott, Ph.D., chemistry professor, University of Illinois. "In designing nanoscale devices, the shapes of the molecules must be designed not only to be small and fast, but also to move heat effectively. There is no reason that this technique is not applicable to just about any molecule." The research used vibrational spectroscopy with picosecond time resolution to monitor the flow of energy across surfactant molecules that separate droplets of confined water from a nonpolar liquid phase. Their research shows that the surfactant layer must be analyzed in terms of its vibrational couplings, rather than by ordinary heat conduction. Their research provided the first detail of the precise pathways for interfacial vibrational energy in both time and space resolution. The paper, entitled "Vibrational energy transfer across a reverse micelle surfactant layer," was published in "Science" and on the "Science Express" Web site. Faculty and students involved are Dr. Deak and his undergraduate student Timothy Sechler from The University of Scranton; and Dr. Dlott, Yoonsoo Pang, graduate assistant, and Zhaohui Wang, post-doctoral research associate, from the University of Illinois. The National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the U.S. Department of Energy supported this work. Two University of Scranton research grants also supported this research.
SOURCE The University of Scranton