November 2008

In this Issue

Message from the Chair

To all members of the Division of Chemical Physics:

I am writing in my capacity as Chair of the Division of Chemical Physics of the American Physical Society to inform you about some of the divisional activities and to encourage you to attend and participate in the March Meeting which will be held in Pittsburgh, PA this year (March 16-20, 2009). Our program chair/chair-elect Rick Heller has assembled 8 very broad and timely focus sessions on topics ranging from fundamental developments in density functional theory to ones involving electron transport in interfacial water and through molecules, light harvesting and energy applications, various biological subjects including ion channel function and the transition state. See the division website for details.

Chemical physics is a very active and broad subject area comprising activities in just about every aspect of science at the interface between physics and chemistry, also including topics of interest in biological science, materials science and environmental science as well. DCP focus sessions at the March meeting are comprised of both invited and contributed papers and provide a wonderful opportunity to learn about the latest developments in a field or present your own advances in a subject area. In view of their format, the focus sessions provide a unique opportunity for your graduate students to deliver a talk at a major scientific conference and we encourage you to have them submit an abstract to an appropriate session. The due date is next Friday, November 21! Beyond the opportunity to present new findings, the March meeting gives senior researchers, beginning researchers, students and postdoctoral individuals alike, the opportunity to meet, network and exchange ideas on both a formal and informal basis. Please note that the division sponsors some graduate student travel awards and a dependent child care award as well, thereby providing our younger members opportunities to receive assistance in order to attend.

Currently DCP has about 2200 members and we ask your help in attracting new members as our finances available for sponsoring programs and electing fellows depends on our ability to maintain a large and active membership. In addition to enabling us to offer a more extensive program, your membership enables you to obtained reduced meeting registration fees, and lower cost life insurance premiums. And for students, membership is free for the first year. The division also sponsors awards including the Langmuir Award, Broida Award and the Plyler Prize.

In ending, I wish to thank past chair Dan Neumark for his major contributions in advancing the objectives of DCP, and also acknowledge the efforts of Andrew Rappe who is our current treasurer/secretary. I am pleased to welcome Rick Heller, this year’s program chair, as the incoming chair of the division and Arthur Suits as incoming chair-elect after the March meeting. We all hope that DCP may count on your support and contribution to its activities during the coming year. Any suggestions regarding divisional matters and programs would be welcomed by the executive committee. Let us hear from you.

Thank you,

Will Castleman

APS DCP Reception

The Division of Chemical Physics will co-host a reception for ALL DCP members, during the 2009 APS March Meeting. We will have good food and drink, and it'll be a great chance to meet and mingle with other DCP members. The date, time and location will be announced soon, but do plan to attend! See you there!

APS March Meeting Deadlines

APS March Meeting Information

Abstract Submission Deadline: 21 Nov 2008

Early Registration Deadline (lowest fees): 19 Jan 2009

Satellite Meeting Requests: 19 Jan 2009

Housing: 13 Feb 2009

Late Registration Deadline (higher fees): 6 Feb 2009

APS March Meeting Child Care Grant: 15 Jan 2009

APS DCP March Meeting Dependent Child Care Award: 17 Feb 2009

APS DCP March Meeting Graduate Travel Fellowships: 24 Nov 2008

APS DCP Fellowship Deadline: 8 Feb 2009

APS March Meeting DCP Focus Sessions

Dear DCP Members,

We have an exciting set of Focus Sessions again this year at the March meeting. We encourage you to attend and submit an abstract. The scientific program won’t be published until January, but your abstract deadline is November 21, 2008. This letter brings you early notification of DCP sessions that may be of special interest to you.

The brief list of Focus topics below is followed by more detailed descriptions. One thing we don’t know at this time is the schedule, which is published only in January.

I hope to see you there.


Rick Heller
DCP Chair-elect

APS March Meeting DCP Focus Topics (several half day sessions each):

I. Fundamental Developments In Density Functional Theory
II. Structure and dynamics of interfacial water
III. Theory of Electron Transport Through Molecules
IV. Nanomaterials for Energy Applications
V. Spectroscopic Probes of Biomolecular Structure and Function.
VI. The chemical physics of biological and biologically-inspired solar energy harvesting
VII. Physico-Chemical Bases of Biological Ion Channel Function
VIII. The Transition State in Physics, Chemistry, and Astrophysics

I. Fundamental Developments In Density Functional Theory
Adam Wasserman, Purdue

Density Functional Theory (DFT) has been enormously successful in describing quantitatively a wide range of ground-state properties of atoms, molecules, clusters, and extended systems. Its time-dependent analog, TDDFT, is now routinely used in order to extract electronic excited state energies of matter at all levels of aggregation. Notwithstanding this success which underscores the popularity that DFT and TDDFT are enjoying in quantum chemistry and materials science, several limitations of existing approximations to the density functionals have been identified. Understanding and overcoming such limitations remains a major challenge of contemporary chemical physics. Coinciding with the 45th anniversary of the Hohenberg-Kohn theorem that laid the foundation for DFT, and also with the 25th anniversary of the Runge-Gross theorem that put TDDFT on firm footing, the present session will focus on recent progress facing that challenge.

Confirmed invited speakers:

  • Weitao Yang (Insights into Current Limitations of Density Functional Theory)
  • Axel Becke (Van der Waals Complexes in Density Functional Theory)
  • David Langreth (Van der Waals Interactions in Density Functional Theory: Theory and Applications)
  • Kieron Burke (Semiclassical Approach to Density Functional Theory)
  • Klaus Capelle (Bounds on the Correlation Energy of Coulomb-interacting Systems: How Negative Does E_c get, and What Does this Imply for Approximate Density Functionals?)
  • Neepa Maitra (Phase-Space Explorations in Time-Dependent Density Functional Theory)
  • Carsten Ullrich (Time-Dependent Density Functional Theory for Electronic Excitations in Materials)

II. Structure and dynamics of interfacial water
Ken Jordan, Hrvoje Petek, organizers

The goal of the symposium is to bring together experimentalists and theoreticians from different communities (physics, chemistry, and biology),who study the properties of interfacial water as it relates to its interaction with electrons in different environments (cluster, surface, protein), in order to advance the knowledge of how the environment affects the local structure of water, and in turn, the dynamics of electron transfer, solvation, conduction, etc. that is vitally important in fields such as photosynthesis, respiration, photocatalysis, corrosion, atmospheric chemistry, and others.


  • Martin Wolf, "Electron solvation dynamics at D2O ice and Na/D2O/metal interfaces"
  • Angel Rubio, "Theoretical description of excited state dynamics in solvated nanostructures"
  • Mischa Bonn, "Femtosecond Sum-Frequency Generation Studies of the Structure and Dynamics of Interfacial Water
  • David Beratan. "Tunneling electrons through the water layer between proteins"
  • Mark Johnson, "Surveying the potential landscapes controlling the accommodation of excess electrons by water networks
  • Junseok Lee, "Study of Water Adsorbed on the Cu(110)
  • Surface using Scanning Tunneling Microscopy and Electron Stimulated Desorption Ion Angular Distribution"
  • Anders Nilsson, "Hydrogen bonding in water at surfaces and in the liquid phase"
  • Bernd Winter, "Ultrafast dynamical processes in aqueous solution studied by X-ray electron spectroscopy

III. Theory of Electron Transport Through Molecules
Troy van Voorhis

Recent years have seen a rapid proliferation of experimental probes of electron transport on the single molecule scale. These experiments pose significant fundamental challenges to theory: What do these measurements tell us about the chemistry of the molecules involved? How can we connect the familiar tools of electronic structure to model this new field of "transport spectroscopy"? How can we incorporate the effects of dissipation and dephasing on the current? Under what conditions do vibronic interactions influence the current? This symposium will address the theoretical developments that are helping us answer these fundamental questions.

Invited Speakers:

IV. Nanomaterials for Energy Applications
Co-Organizers: Nathaniel Rosi and Alex Star


The development of new methods to harvest, store, and generate energy is one of the most important global scientific challenges. Nanomaterials research has made a big impact in this area, and nanomaterials have led to the emergence of improved solar cells, hydrogen-storage devices, and powerful batteries and fuel cells. This symposium aims to unite chemists and physicists for a discussion of the current problems, goals, challenges, and opportunities facing researchers in each of these areas. It will consist of three sections; one concerning the fabrication and physical characterization of nanomaterial-based photovoltaic devices, another focusing on the synthesis and gas-sorption properties of new designer nanoporous materials, and a third detailing the use of nanomaterials in battery and fuel cell power generation. Each session will be comprised of speakers whose expertise ranges from synthesis and fabrication to physical characterization and theoretical modeling.

V. Spectroscopic Probes of Biomolecular Structure and Function.
Sunil K. Saxena and David W. Pratt, University of Pittsburgh, Organizers

Dear Colleagues,

We write to invite you to submit abstracts for the Focus Session on "Spectroscopic Probes of Biomolecular Structure and Function", which will be held at the March Meeting of the American Physical Society, March 16-20, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This symposium is sponsored by the Division of Chemical Physics and is intended to bring together scientists with interests in the application of various spectroscopic and imaging techniques to the study of the structures and dynamics of biomolecules, ranging from the energetics of isolated biomolecules in gas phase to biomolecules in solution and in the cell.

Both experimental and theoretical contributions in the following and related areas are welcome; 1. Biomolecules in gas phase; 2. Protein, peptide, and DNA/RNA folding and dynamics; 3. Solvent control in enzyme function; 4. Microwave, terahertz, infrared, Raman, and UV/Vis spectroscopy; 5. Nonlinear laser spectroscopy; 6. Two- and three- dimensional spectroscopies; 7. NMR and EPR; 8. Biological applications of mass spectrometry; 9. Single-molecule spectroscopy and microscopy; 10. In vivo imaging; 11. Protein mis-folding and amyloid formation; and 12. Advances in understanding the energy landscapes of complex systems.

There will be three half-day sessions in the Symposium. All accepted submissions will result in oral presentations. The abstract deadline is November 21, 2008. More details about the meeting are registration can be found at

Confirmed invited speakers include:

  • Sanford Asher, University of Pittsburgh, "UV Resonance Raman Spectroscopic Measurements of the Energy Landscapes for Peptide and Protein (Un)folding"
  • Philip Anfinrud, National Institutes of Health, "Time-Resolved X-Ray Spectroscopy"
  • Nien-Hui Ge, University of California, Irvine, "2D IR Spectroscopy"
  • Eric Gloaguen, University of Paris (Saclay), "IR/UV laser spectroscopy of secondary structures in isolated peptide chains: Original insights into the non-covalent interactions that shape proteins"
  • Bern Kohler, Ohio State University, "Picosecond Laser Spectroscopy"
  • Terry A. Miller, Ohio State University, "High Resolution Electronic Spectroscopy in the Gas Phase" (Plyler Prize Address)
  • Rob Tycko, National Institutes of Health, "Molecular Structures of Amyloid Fibrils: What Are They and Why?"
  • Kurt Warncke, Emory University, "Structure and dynamics in B12 enzyme catalysis revealed by electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy"

We will hope to see you in Pittsburgh at what promises to be an exciting meeting!

Best regards,

Sunil K. Saxena and David W. Pratt (Organizers)
Department of Chemistry, University of Pittsburgh

VI. The chemical physics of biological and biologically-inspired solar energy harvesting
Alan Aspuru-Guzik (Harvard University), Gregory Engel (University of Chicago), co-organizers

Every day, 5x1021 J of energy from the sun reaches the Earth's surface. By 2040, anthropogenic energy consumption will have doubled requiring 2x1018 J of energy for daily use. Therefore, given the abundance of untapped energy, scalable, economical solar energy harvesting is an attractive alternative energy source. The vast majority of the energy available to living organisms in the food chain emanates from photosynthesis. The mechanisms that photosynthetic organisms employ for light energy harvesting differ from those of solid-state inorganic devices both in their organization and in the degree of excitonic localization. Electronic excitations in solid state inorganic devices are delocalized and separated charge carriers are transported long distances; therefore these materials require a high degree of order. In contrast, natural light-harvesting antennas are organized at smaller length scales and employ more localized excitons; these excitons are then transported prior to charge separation. For the development of artificial light-harvesting devices, a fundamental understanding of the excitonic transport process is crucial for the development of novel nanostructured and organic photovoltaic materials.

In this symposium, we seek to identify design principles of natural light harvesting systems and lay the foundation for the next generation of artificial light harvesting devices. Topics such as the role of coherence in excitonic energy transfer, excitonic diffusion, charge separation, and carrier recombination in both artificial and natural light-harvesting systems will be discussed.


  • Marc A. Baldo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Tessa Calhoun, University of California, Berkeley
  • Shaul Mukamel, University of California, Irvine
  • Gregory D. Scholes, University of Toronto
  • Robert J. Silbey, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Leonas Valkūnas, Vilnus University, Lithuania

VII. Physico-Chemical Bases of Biological Ion Channel Function
Rob D. Coalson, organzer

The past decade has seen tremendous strides in our understanding of the structure and function of protein channels that embed in lipid bilayers to allow the passage of ions – a key component in many critical physiological functions, including energy and signal transduction. The determination of the crystal structures of several ion channels, as well as advances in cryo-microscopy, NMR and other spectroscopic techniques, have provided insights into mechanisms of their motions and function, including ion permeation kinetics and channel gating in response to channel-specific stimuli. In this Focus Topic session, recent progress in both experimental and theoretical/computational aspects of ion channel science will be explored from a condensed matter physics perspective, including molecular and coarse-grained microscopic and mesoscopic models of ion channel structure-function relations, and experimental measurements made via state-of-the-art spectroscopic probes (ESR, NMR, FRET, etc.). Ion channel based applications to biotechnology, e.g., single-molecule sensing and fuel cell design, will also be featured.


VIII. The Transition State in Physics, Chemistry, and Astrophysics
Charlie Jaffe, Univ West Virginia organizer

The Transition State is not confined to chemical reaction dynamics, but it also controls rates in a multitude of interesting systems, including, e.g., the rearrangements of clusters, the ionization of atoms, conductance due to ballistic electron transport through microjunctions, diffusion jumps in solids, and statistical rates of asteroid capture. The papers in this session will discuss the reemergence of dynamical approaches, including Wigner's, to Transition State Theory.


  • George Haller
  • R. Stephen Berry
  • Holger Waalkens
  • Thomas Bartsch
  • Tamiki Komatsuzaki
  • Tomohiro Yanao

Congratulations to APS Prize Winners

The Division of Chemical Physics extends its congratulations to all the 2009 APS Prize Award, Medal, Lectureship, and Dissertation Award winners.

The three awards currently administered by the DCP are the Broida, Plyler, and Langmuir Prizes.

The Earle K. Plyler Prize for Molecular Spectroscopy (see also is administered by the DCP and funded by generous contributions from the George E. Crouch Foundation and Spectra-Physics.

It is our great pleasure to congratulate Terry A. Miller, the 2009 recipient of the APS Earl K. Plyler Prize for Molecular Spectroscopy "For his pioneering spectroscopic investigations of complex molecules, free radicals, and ions - especially for the development of a quantitative understanding of the Jahn-Teller effect in organic molecules."

The Herbert P. Broida Prize (see also is administered by the DCP and funded by generous contributions from the friends and colleagues of Herbert P. Broida. It is awarded by the APS in odd-numbered years.

The DCP is proud to honor Gustav Gerber, the 2009 recipient of the APS Herbert P. Broida Prize "For the pioneering experimental realization of coherent control of molecular dynamics and chemical reactions with feedback-optimized laser pulses."

The Irving Langmuir Prize in Chemical Physics (see also is administered by the DCP and funded by generous contributions from the GE Fund and GE R&D. It is awarded by the APS in odd-numbered years and by the American Chemical Society in even-numbered years.

The Division of Chemical Physics is pleased to announce that W.E. Moerner is the 2009 recipient of the APS Irving Langmuir Prize in Chemical Physics "For making major contributions to the chemical physics of biological systems and non-biological materials through the application of single molecule spectroscopy."

More information about winners of APS prizes and awards in 2009 is available on the web. (see also

Fellowship Committee and Nominations

The DCP extends its thanks to the 2008 DCP Fellowship Committee, Al Wagner (chair), Anne Myers Kelley, and Fleming Crim.

We encourage the nomination for fellowship of deserving candidates. Nominations for 2009 APS Fellowship to be considered by the DCP Fellowship Committee should be made before the deadline, which will be 8 February 2009. Instructions for submitting a nomination for consideration next year are included on the APS web site.

DCP Membership

Membership in the American Physical Society's Division of Chemical Physics allows you to directly support a primary forum for chemical physics research. The status and influence of the DCP within the APS is dependent on the number of DCP members. Increasing DCP membership is crucial to preserving this important professional asset. If you are not a DCP member, we encourage you to join on the web or by phone (301-209-3280).

DCP Elections for 2009-10 Officers

The DCP extends its thanks to the 2008 DCP Nominating Committee, Alec Wodtke (chair), R. Stephen Berry, and Anne McCoy.

The following candidates are running for office:

Vice Chair (The 2009-10 Vice Chair will become the 2010-11 Chair-Elect and the 2011-12 Chair):

  • Kit Bowen, Johns Hopkins University
  • Birgitta Whaley, University of California, Berkeley

Councillor (01/09 - 12/11):

  • Mark Gordon, Iowa State University
  • Nancy Levinger, Colorado State University

Member at Large (04/09 - 03/12):

  • Stephen Gray, Argonne National Laboratory
  • James Lisy, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

The election has begun, and will run until December 31, 2008. Please vote!

Upcoming Conferences of Possible Interest to DCP Membership

Titan Chemistry: Observations, Experiments, Computation, Modeling
Feb 26-28, 2009
Caribe Hilton
San Juan, PR
Chair: Arthur Suits
Vice-chairs: Ralf Kaiser, Alex Mebel, Ian Sims

2009 Conference on the Dynamics of Molecular Collisions
July 5-10, 2009
Snowbird, Utah
Chair: Anne McCoy
Vice-chair: David Nesbitt

Solar Energy Conversion: Basic Research for a Sustainable Future
Feb 7, 2009
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA
Chair: Andrew M. Rappe