Scattering techniques (using spallation and steady-state neutron and synchrotron x-ray sources) are combined with thermodynamic, scanning probe and computer simulation methods to develop a comprehensive understanding of the structure and dynamics of molecular films adsorbed on surfaces and within porous media. The goal of this program is to initiate and advance methods for investigating the microscopic properties associated with novel two- and three-dimensional materials, some of which may be chemically active. These studies are important because they provide the necessary information for developing quantitative theoretical descriptions of molecule-molecule and molecule-surface interactions. Elastic and high-resolution inelastic neutron scattering methods are used to monitor changes in the structure and dynamics associated with phase transformations.
Recently, these experimental methods have been used to probe the changes in the physical and chemical properties of simple molecules adsorbed on uniquely prepared nanoparticles of MgO and doped metal oxide powders. This work is aimed at identifying how the interfacial region of materials mediates simple chemical reactions by investigating the interplay between chemical activity and changes in microscopic structural and dynamical properties of the system.