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PNNL scientist elected fellow of the American Physical Society

Xue-Bin Wang recognized for research in condensed phase chemical physics

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December 09, 2016 Share This!

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RICHLAND, Wash. — A chemical physicist at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has been elected to the rank of fellow of the American Physical Society.

The honor recognizes the many contributions that PNNL's Xue-Bin Wang has made over the last 18 years in condensed phase chemistry, both scientifically and in technology development. This field of chemistry looks at small molecules that carry charges, trying to understand the innermost details of how they behave.

These small molecules are found everywhere — from the tiny particles that seed rain, to batteries, and all the way to biology. Understanding these molecules will help us deal with environmental issues, energy and health. In biology, Wang determined why an infamous fluorescing molecule known as Green Fluorescent Protein shines as brightly as it does, and how water molecules in GFP's environment stabilize it to let it shine its brightest.

In other work, how small negatively charged molecules called ions get along with the solvent they find themselves is important to both water treatment and batteries. So Wang has looked at ions and solvents to determine why some negative ions organize the liquid while others disrupt it. And in atmospheric science, Wang has explored how acidic molecules — derived from the smells that pine trees give off — seed tiny particles called aerosols that can both build and disperse clouds.

On the technology front, he has made significant contributions to techniques used to study these molecules, such as electrospray ionization photoelectron spectroscopy and a generic cryogenic ion trap that revolutionizes gas phase ion spectroscopy. APS officially recognized Wang for "outstanding contributions to probing the structure and energetics of a broad range of negative ions and their solvation important to condensed phase chemical physics."

APS is a non-profit membership organization working to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics through its research journals, scientific meetings, and education, outreach, advocacy, and international activities. APS has more than 51,000 members in academia, national laboratories, and industry in the United States and throughout the world.

Wang earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, China, a master's degree and doctorate from the Institute of Chemistry at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. He is an author of 185 peer-reviewed publications that have appeared in high-level journals including Nature, Science, and the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

No more than one-half of one percent of the membership may be elected an APS Fellow each year. Wang's selection brings the total of current PNNL staff members who are APS Fellows to 15. He will be recognized with the rest of this year's class at the organization's annual meeting in New Orleans in March 2016.

Tags: Fundamental Science, Awards and Honors, Physics

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