Interesting things occur in the places where change is happening. Where solid ice meets liquid water, where crystals form on a solid surface, where molecules condense into new phases of matter. These are the places where chemistry meets physics, and much is learned about the fundamental forces that guide and underpin research in energy storage and conversion and much of the other research conducted at PNNL.
The places where liquid meets solid, where gas condenses to liquid, these interfaces are challenging to study and yet essential to understand. They require a combination of advanced theory and computational modeling, combined with experiment to fully explore. Investments in chemical imaging technology, computational capability, and modeling methods provide the tools that allow this exploration.
Liquid/liquid and liquid/solid interfaces built one molecule at a time provide uniform structures whose chemistry is understood and visualized at a level of detail not available in bulk materials. Similarly, we can isolate individual ions solvated by adding one solvent molecule at a time. We use X-ray spectroscopic methods to study how solutions behave under extreme experimental conditions and then combine those results with advanced theory and modeling methods to help interpret the results. We study pattern formation and self-assembly, phase transitions, and crystal nucleation, all in the service of better understanding the fundamental physical properties that underlie nearly every facet of the natural world.