UA Chemist Andrei Sanov Wins Arnold and Mabel Beckman Young Investigator Award

March 20, 2002

Andrei Sanov, a professor of chemistry at the University of Arizona in Tucson, will receive the prestigious Arnold and Mabel Beckman Young Investigators Award.

The three-year, $240,000 award begins this September, and includes an invitation to attend the Beckman Young Investigators Symposium, August 23-24 at the National Academy of Sciences and Engineering in Irvine, Calif.

Sanov's experiments focus on the electronic structure and ultrafast dynamics of chemical reactions in molecular and cluster anions (negatively charged ions), as viewed from the electronic perspective.

"Chemistry is often described in terms of atomic rearrangements (e.g., AB + C -> A + BC), but the atomic motions are only part of the picture," says Sanov, "It is the electrons that control chemical bonding and it is their behavior that determines the reaction outcomes. The electron dynamics are the driving force of chemistry and it is this realization that motivates our research.

"We use photoelectron imaging to view the electrons detached from negative ions by a laser pulse. The resulting photoelectron images reveal information about the parent molecular orbitals, from which the electrons are ejected. We focus mainly on negative ions, because they are vital to understanding chemistry of solutions, as well as bio- and environmental chemistry. Many important chemical processes involve ionic reactions, and the reactivity of anions is affected strongly by interactions with the environment. To this end, we use cluster anions as model micro-solutions for the studies of elementary chemical processes in condensed environments."

"With the support from the Beckman Foundation, my goal is to develop photoelectron imaging of negative ions into a comprehensive method for the studies of the ultrafast evolution of the electronic structure in chemical reactions on the femtosecond timescale. As part of this effort, we have established the, which features some of the photoelectron images recorded in our laboratory," Sanov said.