Physical chemistry: thermodynamics and statistical mechanics; phase transitions in molecularly complex systems
Office: Urey Hall 3050M
Awards and Academic Honors
Guggenheim Foundation Fellow
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow
Postdoctoral position, Harvard University
NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University
NSF Graduate Fellowship, Cornell University
Phi Beta Kappa
My principal area of research is the theory of phase transitions and critical phenomena in multicomponent mixtures. I use statistical mechanical models and general thermodynamic arguments to gain a better understanding of these systems. Currently I am particularly interested in mixtures in which the molecular complexity of the components leads to interesting new kinds of phase transitions and critical phenomena. Some examples on which I have active research projects are: hydrogen-bonded liquid mixtures with lower critical solution points and closed-loop coexistence curves; critical phenomena and phase transitions in polymers and polymer solutions; equilibrium polymerization as a critical and tricritical phenomenon and its consequences for the interesting phase transitions in sulfur, sulfur solutions, and living polymers; phase diagrams in micelle-forming surfactant solutions; phase equilibrium and critical points in microemulsions; and critical phenomena in chemically reactive mixtures. Although much of my work is analytical in nature, we currently have two research projects in this area that involve Monte Carlo simulations of polymers and microemulsions.
A second area of research is the analysis of spectral densities by moment methods. Many problems in chemistry and physics can be expressed in terms of densities, including the vibrational and electronic structure of solids, various models of magnetism, and the general study of time correlation functions. It is often the case that the density is unknown, but that several moments or averages over the density can be obtained. The problem then is to reconstruct the density from a limited number of moments. We have developed methods based on modified moments for analyzing densities and reconstructing the unknown density functions with great accuracy. We are currently applying these techniques to the properties of atoms at the surfaces of solids.
Primary Research Area
- Resolution of a Classical Gravitational Second-Law Paradox. Foundations of Physics, 34, 1029-1062 (2004).
- Entropy Does not Follow from the First Law: Critique of ``Entropy and the First Law of Thermodynamics'. The Chemical Educator, 8, 171-176 (2003).
- Critique of ``Centrifugal Gas Compression Cycle', in Quantum Limits to the Second Law: First International Conference, D.P. Sheehan, Ed. AIP Conference Proceeding 643, (2002), p 345-351.
- Thermodynamic Analysis of the Amin Engine, in Quantum Limits to the Second Law: First International Conference, D.P. Sheehan, Ed. AIP Conference Proceeding 643, (2002), p 352-358.
- Tetracritical and Novel Tricritical Points in a Model Magnet. With P. Pfeuty. Physica 244, 476 (1997).
- Monte Carlo Study of a Microscopic Lattice Model for Microemulsions. With T.P. Stockfisch. J. Chem. Phys., 99, 6155 (1993).
- Chemical Reaction Driven Phase Transitions and Critical Points. With L. R. Corrales. J. Chem. Phys. 91, 7097 (1989).
- Tetracritical and Novel Tricritical Points in Sulfur Solutions. With L. R. Corrales. J. Chem. Phys. 90, 5030 (1989).