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One of the scientific challenges the group faces is describing the molecule-molecule and molecule-substrate interactions that occur between materials of interest. A way to study these interactions is by observing the process of adsorption (by which molecules accumulate to form a thin film on the external or internal surfaces of a substrate).

An adsorption isotherm station (pictured) is used to preliminarily investigate the molecule-substrate interactions and to identify interesting regions in a system’s phase diagram to study its structure and dynamics. All isotherm stations are built in-house and are controlled using a proprietary program that allows us to specify the amount of adsorbate introduced to a substrate at a defined temperature. The control program is designed for maximum ease-of-use, with a minimum of personnel attendance. Using a screen-sharing application, any one of our isotherm machines can be monitored and controlled by group members on site or around the world.

We have conducted isotherm experiments to study the adsorption characteristics of the short-chain alkanes on MgO (100) surfaces, along with hydrogen, water, benzene, cyclic alkanes, and other small organic compounds on MgO, graphite, ZnO, and other surfaces. For more information on the systems we have studied, please take a look at the Publications section of the website.