Robert F. Curl, Jr.

Rice University

Election Year: 1997
Primary Section: 14, Chemistry
Membership Type: Member

Research Interests

In collaboration with Richard Smalley, I have investigated the formation and properties of clusters of refractory elements. This work led to the discovery that spheroidal carbon cage molecules, which we called the fullerenes, form spontaneously in condensing carbon vapor. The most common and interesting fullerene is C60, buckminsterfullerene, or buckyball. The principal, long-term theme of my research interests has been high resolution gas phase molecular spectroscopy. Currently, we are carrying out research in tunable laser infrared spectroscopy in two main areas. In one area, we are doing infrared kinetic spectroscopy of small free radicals. Through this technique, we can investigate the high-resolution infrared spectrum of the radical obtaining information about its molecular structure. We can also investigate the chemical kinetic behavior of the radical obtaining rate constants for its reactions and branching ratios into product channels. In the other area, we are developing tunable infrared laser sources based on difference frequency generation in non-linear materials (silver gallium sulfide, silver gallium selenide, gallium selenide, periodically-poled lithium niobate) for use in atmospheric monitoring.

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