Snapshots of Proton Conduction Process in Water

  • By Aude Marjolin
  • 5 December 2016

Scientists Capture Snapshots of the Proton Conduction Process in Water

The motion of protons (positively charged H atoms) in water is associated with water’s conduction of electricity and is involved in many important processes including vision, signaling in biological systems, photosynthesis and, the operation of fuel cells. Both artificial photosynthetic systems and fuel cells are of growing interest for clean energy technologies. However, the details of how protons move in water have remained elusive, and an enhanced understanding of the nature of this process is needed to improve the technologies that depend on proton transfer.

An international team of scientists, including a University of Pittsburgh professor and graduate student, has used spectroscopic methods to obtain snapshots of the process by which a proton is relayed from one water molecule to the next. The research is published in a paper in the December 2, 2016 issue of the journal Science.

Hrvoje Petek and David Waldeck named AAAS Fellows

  • By Aude Marjolin
  • 22 November 2016

Hrvoje Petek and David Waldeck were recently elected AAAS Fellows in Physics and Chemistry, respectively.

In October 2016, the AAAS Council elected 391 members as Fellows of the association, in recognition of their contributions to innovation, education, and scientific leadership. The tradition of electing AAAS Fellows began in 1874 to recognize members for their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. 

The 2016 AAAS fellows will be recognized at AAAS' 2017 annual meeting where they will be presented a rosette pin, its gold and blue colors signify science and engineering, respectively. 

View all the elected fellows here.

Fundamentals of Quantum Materials Winter School (January 16-19, 2017)

  • By Aude Marjolin
  • 9 November 2016

The inaugural Fundamentals of Quantum Materials Winter School will be held at the University of Maryland, January 16-19, 2017 at the University of Maryland, College Park, MD.

This school, sponsored by ICAM and the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation, is aimed at providing fundamental training to our current and future generations of Quantum Materials scientists in synthesis and characterization techniques. It will bring together senior and junior scientists to address topics at the forefront of current research into quantum materials, while also providing pedagogical background and practical training for junior scientists. With an interdisciplinary and diverse crowd including physicists, chemists, and materials scientists, participants will gain a basic functional knowledge of how to plan and carry out synthesis relevant to the study of quantum materials, and will have a unique opportunity to interact with some of the top researchers in the field while networking with fellow peers. 

Investigating Bond-Breaking in Unstrained Rings with Quantum Chemistry

  • By Aude Marjolin
  • 9 November 2016

Although synthetic chemists typically regard carbon-carbon single bonds as inert, they have used metal catalysts to spring open C–C bonds in strained rings, such as cyclopropanes and cyclobutanes. Performing a similar transformation with less strained but more common five- and six-membered rings, however, has proven more difficult.

Now, synthetic and theoretical chemists report a way of opening up C–C bonds in aryl substituted cyclopentanones to produce α-tetralones. The reaction was developed by University of Chicago’s Guangbin Dong and Ying Xia, and at Pitt, Peng Liu and his post doc Gang Lu studied the mechanism from a quantum chemical point of view with DFT (Density Functional Theory) calculations.

The results are published in the online issue of Nature.

Judith Yang Named Fellow of the American Physical Society

  • By Aude Marjolin
  • 7 November 2016

The American Physical Society (APS) has elected Judith Yang to the position of Fellow. APS President Homer Neal cited Yang’s selection: “For seminal contributions to in situ environmental transmission electron microscopy, the fundamental understanding of metal oxidation and the application of nanomaterials and catalysis.” Yang joined 14 other members of the APS Division of Materials Physics to be named Fellows this year. The APS caps the number of new Fellows elected each year to one half of one percent of its 51,000 members internationally. The Fellowship committee evaluates each nomination based on a criteria of exceptional contributions to the physics enterprise, including outstanding research, application, leadership or service and contributions to education related to the field of physics.

I feel honored in becoming a Fellow of the American Physical Society, but I also look forward to the attention and recognition it will bring to the University of Pittsburgh,” said Yang. “We have only recently been able to see the dynamic processes of oxidation at the nanoscale by using environmental transmission electron microscopy; we are starting to gain a new fundamental understanding of oxidation that challenges classical theories.

2016 Behrend Computational Materials Meeting, November 19, 2016

  • By Aude Marjolin
  • 1 November 2016

The Behrend Computational Materials Meeting 2016 will be held Saturday, November 19 from 10 am to 4 pm at Penn State Behrend (Erie, PA). The focus of the meeting will be on Atomic Level Methods and Applications

There is no participation fee, and lunch will be provided. To officially register, please fill out the form below. Registration deadline is Wednesday Nov. 9, 2016. (Early registrations preferred).

Questions or concerns?  Please e-mail Blair Tuttle at

Noa Marom Receives DOE INCITE Award

  • By Aude Marjolin
  • 31 October 2016

Noa Marom's proposal "Materials and Interfaces for Organic and Hybrid Photovoltaics" has been selected for a 2017 Department of Energy (DOE) Innovative and Novel Computation Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) award. This particular award allows use of 160,000,000 CPU hours on Mira at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility. INCITE supports computationally intensive, large-scale research projects with large amounts of dedicated time on supercomputers at DOE's Leadership Computing Facilities.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science provides a portfolio of national high-performance computing facilities housing some of the world’s most advanced supercomputers. These leadership computing facilities enable world-class research for significant advances in science.

The Calisthenics of Surface Femtochemistry

  • By Aude Marjolin
  • 27 October 2016

Application of a femtosecond spectroscopy technique to a copper surface has allowed the desorption of carbon monoxide molecules to be tracked with unprecedented detail.

In this view point article, Hrvoje Petek comments on the work of Ken-ichi Inoue et al. on the multidimensional nonequilibrium dynamics of CO as it desorbs from a Cu(100) surface.  He opens by saying that "it has long been a chemist’s dream to catch a chemical reaction in the act", with the aim "to observe and interfere with this process in mid-course and thereby control its outcome".


  • By Aude Marjolin
  • 12 October 2016

The 17th IEEE International Conference on Nanotechnology (IEEE NANO 2017) will be held July 25-28, 2017 at the Pittsburgh Marriott City Center, 112 Washington Place, Pittsburgh, USA. Bill Stanchina will act as the Organizing Chair of the conference.

Several topics rganging from nanoelectronics to nanomaterials to spintronics will be broached. Visit the website for more information about the conference as well as important dates for abstracts and paper submissions.

Tevis Jacobs Awarded NSF Grant to Enable Visualization of Atomic Structure

  • By Aude Marjolin
  • 26 September 2016

Tevis Jacobs received an NSF grant to observe and measure nanoscale contact inside an electron microscope, enabling for the first time the visualization of the atomic structure of the component materials while they are in contact.

Jacobs will serve as principal investigator of the study, “Collaborative Research: Understanding the Formation and Separation of Nanoscale Contacts,” which received $298,834 over three years.

He and his team will collaborate with the University of California-Merced. As the electron microscopy examines the materials’ surfaces, the experiments using molecular dynamics computer simulations will be replicated to reveal atomic-scale.