Abstract by Dallin Arnold
Chemistry and Biochemistry
Levitating Nanoparticles in an Optical Trap
The optical trap is a method used to analyze particle properties by trapping nanoparticles in the focal point of a laser beam. Successful experiments of the optical trap have opened up numerous opportunities to study the unique characteristics of individual particles, and they have advanced our knowledge of other important fields of study, such as non-equilibrium thermodynamics and the bridge between the regimes of classical and quantum physics. The goal of our research is to use the optical trap to analyze the specific gas-phase mechanisms of a variety of catalysts commonly used in many industrial reactions. By doing so, we hope to gain a better understanding of the exact properties of these catalysts and the manner in which they react with other molecules to increase the rate of reactions. As we better understand these mechanistic details of individual particles, we will be able to produce more effective catalysts in bulk and increase the rate, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness of many industrial reactions today.