Professor of Chemistry
Member of Yale faculty since 1990
Research Our research explores the provenance of molecular behavior, with special emphasis placed on the unique features that give rise to physical properties and chemical propensities. Ongoing experiments exploit diverse forms of optical spectroscopy to interrogate the ground-/excited-state potential energy surfaces of tractable species, thereby elucidating the coupling among electronic and nuclear degrees of freedom that mediates their structure and dynamics. When combined with detailed computational and theoretical analyses, such measurements afford a trenchant glimpse of phenomena that permeate the entire fabric of chemistry and impact upon related disciplines, including proton transfer, hydrogen bonding, non-adiabatic interactions, reaction dynamics, and chirality. Successful execution of these studies necessitates both technical innovations and conceptual advancements, with many of the linear/nonlinear spectroscopic methods used in our work (e.g., polarization-resolved resonant four-wave mixing and cavity ring-down polarimetry) first developed and implemented in our laboratories.
B.A. University of Pennsylvania, 1980
Ph.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1986
Postdoctoral Associate, Stanford University, 1986-90
IBM Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford University, 1988-89
Presidential Young Investigator, 1991
David and Lucile Packard Fellow, 1992
Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar, 1994
Fellow of The American Physical Society, 2007
L. Burns, D. Murdock, & P. H. Vaccaro. An Exploration of Electronic Structure and Nuclear Dynamics in Tropolone: I. The Ground State. J. Chem. Phys. 2006, 124, 204307.
S. A. Broadbent, L. A. Burns, C. Chatterjee, & P. H. Vaccaro. Investigation of Electronic Structure and Proton Transfer in Ground State Acetylacetone. Chem. Phys. Lett. 2007, 434, 31-37.
D. Murdock, L. A. Burns, & P. H. Vaccaro. Mode-Specific Tunneling Dynamics in the Ground Electronic State of Tropolone. J. Chem. Phys. 2007, 127, 081101/1-5.
S. M. Wilson, V. Vats, & P. H. Vaccaro. Time-Domain Method for Characterizing Retardation Plates with High Sensitivity and Resolution. J. Opt. Soc. Am. B
2007, 24, 2500-2508.
S. M. Wilson, K. B. Wiberg, M. J. Murphy, & P. H. Vaccaro. The Effects of Conformation and Solvation on Optical Rotation: Substituted Epoxides. Chirality 2008, 20, 357-369.