Physical and Fundamental Chemistry
New Mexico Tech faculty covers a broad range of research areas that fall under the general umbrella of physical and theoretical chemistry. The faculty interests encompass both fundamental ("basic") and applied topics. We primarily approach physical problems using spectroscopy, catalysis, photochemistry, as well as computational and theoretical chemistry.
Dr. Altig and his team construct computational models involving quantum chemical and biophysical calculations using commercial software such as Gaussian or Autodock to examine the structure of small organic molecules and how they interact with larger biomolecules. They have been examining the structure of Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP) and the factors which influence its stability as an energetic material.
Dr. Pias studies the structural dynamics of biochemical systems, with the aim of gaining insight into metabolic regulatory mechanisms. Her current focus is on oxygen flux across biological membranes and other cellular lipid structures. Given the central importance of aerobic metabolism for human health, hindrance of oxygen transport on the cellular level can have enormous consequences, impacting tumor cell metabolism, cardiac function, and diabetic insulin response. The Pias Group takes a biophysical chemistry approach, using computer simulations to gain insight into lipid structural dynamics and oxygen diffusion.
Dr. Gao is broadly interested in the design, synthesis, characterization, and applications of new functional materials. He focuses on leveraging nanospace for energy-related critical issues at the interface of organometallic and materials chemistry. The confined nanospace within porous materials, including metal-organic frameworks, covalent organic frameworks, and organic cages, provides unlimited opportunities and intriguing tools to interrogate fundamental questions in a variety of areas. Students working in Dr. Gao's lab will gain expertise in various facets of synthetic inorganic and material chemistry. They will become skilled at using NMR, mass spectroscopy, FT-IR, gas adsorption, UV-vis spectroscopy, and X-ray diffraction methods to characterize their materials. They have opportunities to access Synchrotron radiation to investigate their material structures. They are encouraged to attend local and national conferences to disseminate their most exciting results.