Support teaching, research, and patient care.
A pioneer in the use of lasers to study chemical reactions at the molecular level, Marguerite Blake Wilbur Professor Richard N. Zare pursues diverse theoretical and experimental interests in physical chemistry and nanoscale chemical analysis. The Zarelab has made a broad impact in analytic chemistry with development of laser-induced fluorescence to study reaction dynamics, and seminal contributions to understanding of molecular collision processes. The group continues to invent tools and measurement techniques to study phenomena from reaction in microdroplets to drug delivery.Born in 1939 in Cleveland, Ohio, Professor Zare trained in physical and analytical chemistry at Harvard University (B.A. 1961, Ph.D. 1964). His doctoral study under Professor Dudley Herschbach explored photodissociation dynamics. After faculty positions spanning chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, chemistry, physics and astrophysics at the University of Colorado, and chemistry at Columbia University, he joined the Stanford chemistry faculty in 1977. He has taught an introductory chemistry class every year since. As a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor since 2006, Professor Zare has also developed a course introducing undergraduates to hands-on interdisciplinary research, combining physics, and biology to explore how living systems use molecular interactions with light for vision, photosynthesis and more. Professor Zare served as chair of the Department of Chemistry from 2005 to 2011, and has helped to guide scientific policy as chairman of several national and international science boards. His dedication to research and teaching has been recognized in many awards, including the National Medal of Science, the Wolf Prize in Chemistry, and the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring. Among other honors, Professor Zare is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. He has also received 11 honorary doctorates.Current research in the Zarelab explores wide-ranging questions in physical and analytical chemistry, from the study of elementary chemical reactions to chemical analysis of extraterrestrial materials. The major focus of these efforts is chemical analysis on the nanoscale. The team has devised tools and techniques to examine molecules in extremely tiny volumes – the volumes characteristic of what is found in heterogeneous structures in mineral samples or in the contents of cells and subcellular compartments. Group members have also made contributions to the chemical analysis of liquid samples separated using a capillary format by electrophoresis or electrochromatography. Some “firsts” include the use of cavity ring-down spectroscopy to analyze trace species in solution, development of detectors for capillary electrophoresis based on the techniques of laser-induced fluorescence, and CCD imaging, and the use of mass spectrometric imaging of tissue samples by means of desorption electrospray ionization.Please visit the Zarelab website to learn more: http://web.stanford.edu/group/Zarelab/
My research group is exploring a variety of topics that range from the basic understanding of chemical reaction dynamics to the nature of the chemical contents of single cells.Under thermal conditions nature seems to hide the details of how elementary reactions occur through a series of averages over reagent velocity, internal energy, impact parameter, and orientation. To discover the effects of these variables on reactivity, it is necessary to carry out studies of chemical reactions far from equilibrium in which the states of the reactants are more sharply restricted and can be varied in a controlled manner. My research group is attempting to meet this tough experimental challenge through a number of laser techniques that prepare reactants in specific quantum states and probe the quantum state distributions of the resulting products. It is our belief that such state-to-state information gives the deepest insight into the forces that operate in the breaking of old bonds and the making of new ones.Space does not permit a full description of these projects, and I earnestly invite correspondence. The following examples are representative:The simplest of all neutral bimolecular reactions is the exchange reaction H H2 -> H2 H. We are studying this system and various isotopic cousins using a tunable UV laser pulse to photodissociate HBr (DBr) and hence create fast H (D) atoms of known translational energy in the presence of H2 and/or D2 and using a laser multiphoton ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometer to detect the nascent molecular products in a quantum-state-specific manner by means of an imaging technique. It is expected that these product state distributions will provide a key test of the adequacy of various advanced theoretical schemes for modeling this reaction.Analytical efforts involve the use of capillary zone electrophoresis, two-step laser desorption laser multiphoton ionization mass spectrometry, cavity ring-down spectroscopy, and Hadamard transform time-of-flight mass spectrometry. We believe these methods can revolutionize trace analysis, particularly of biomolecules in cells.