Gas Phase Chemical Physics

The Gas Phase Chemical Physics (GPCP) program supports research on fundamental gas-phase chemical processes important in energy applications. The continuing goal of this program is to understand energy flow and reaction mechanisms in complex, nonequilibrium, gas-phase environments. The focus is on fundamental research that explores chemical reactivity, kinetics, and dynamics at the level of electrons, atoms, molecules, and nanoparticles. The program has recently transitioned to focus more on fundamental chemical physics and expanded to understand how gas-phase processes can influence and be influenced by surface phenomena. Energy applications that motivate this program include combustion; interfacial reactivity including catalysis; use of gas-surface interactions to modify surfaces; and non-thermal gas phase processes for synthesis, such as creating nanoparticles.

Research supported by the program is detailed in five thrust areas:

  1. Light-Matter Interactions includes research in the development and application of novel tools, such as molecular spectroscopy, for probing the nuclear and electronic structure of gas-phase molecules to enable chemical and physical analysis of heterogeneous and dynamic gas-phase environments and to understand the dynamic behavior of isolated molecules, such as energy flow (e.g., relaxation of excited states), nuclear rearrangements, and loss of coherence and entanglement. Applications are encouraged that develop automated methods based on artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) methods to facilitate the analysis of complex molecular spectra, or seek to improve the understanding of quantum phenomena in systems that could be used for quantum information science.
  2. Chemical Reactivity comprises research in chemical kinetics and mechanisms, chemical dynamics, collisional energy transfer, and construction of, and calculations on, molecular potential energy surfaces to develop fundamental insight into energy flow and chemical reactions important in clean energy processes. This research also includes understanding the influence of nonequilibrium, heterogeneous, nanoscale environments on complex reaction mechanisms in chemical conversions. Applications are encouraged that develop AI/ML methods for the construction of potential energy surfaces and optimization of chemical kinetic mechanisms.
  3. Gas-Particle Interconversions comprises research on the chemistry of small gas-phase particles, including their interactions with gas-phase molecules and dynamic evolution to understand the molecular mechanisms of formation, growth, and transformation (such as evaporation, phase transition, and reactive processing) of small particles.
  4. Gas-Surface Chemical Physics retains a strong emphasis on molecular-scale investigations of gas-phase chemical processes with the goal of gaining a better understanding of the cooperative effects of coupling gas phase chemistry with surface chemistry.
  5. Ultrafast Imaging/Spectroscopy includes studies of the short timescale phenomena underlying photochemical and photophysical processes, such as photodissociation, isomerization, and nonadiabatic dynamics. Applications are encouraged that develop AI/ML methods for analyzing ultrafast images/spectra or to provide insight into chemical systems associated with clean energy.

The GPCP program does not support research in the following areas: fluid dynamics and spray dynamics; flame and detonation research; design, development, and characterization or optimization of combustion systems and end-use devices without a focus on advancing science issues identified above.

To obtain more information about this research area, please see the proceedings of our Principal Investigators' Meetings. To better understand how this research area fits within the Department of Energy's Office of Science, please refer to the Basic Energy Science's organization chart and budget request.

For more information about this research area, please contact Dr. Wade Sisk.