CaSTL Seminar Speaker Series: Renee Fronteria

Thursday, January 24, 2019 - 13:00
University of California, Irvine | 2201 Natural Science II, Irvine, CA 92697
Renee Frontiera, University of Minnesota | Department of Chemistry
Event Title: 
How local environments impact chemical reaction dynamics: ultrafast Raman spectroscopy on the nanoscale
Eric Potma, UCI Chemistry

Renee R. Frontiera is a McKnight Land-Grant assistant professor of Chemistry at the University of Minnesota. Her research group uses Raman spectroscopic techniques to examine chemical composition and chemical reaction dynamics on nanometer length scales and ultrafast time scales. She received her Ph. D. in 2009 from the University of California – Berkeley, under the advisement of Richard A. Mathies. Her postdoctoral research at Northwestern University was under the supervision of Richard P. Van Duyne. Her research group at the University of Minnesota was founded in 2013, and she is the recent recipient of an NSF CAREER award, a DOE Early Career award, and an NIH Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA). In 2017 she was named one of Chemical & Engineering News’s “Talented 12”, and in 2018 won a Journal of Physical Chemistry Lectureship.

Prof. Fronteria's research program is broadly interested in spectroscopically determining how local environments affect chemical reaction dynamics. We focus on highly heterogeneous systems such as cellular membranes or photocatalytic devices, developing and using new spectroscopic approaches to probe structure and function on relevant length scales. This talk will focus on two approaches to Raman spectroscopies with high spatial and temporal resolution, techniques which are capable of monitoring chemical composition and dynamics. First, I’ll present how we use plasmonic nanomaterials, which interact strongly with light and confine it to nanometer length scales, to probe and drive new chemical reactions. We use surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy on ultrafast timescales to monitor plasmon-molecule interactions in real time. Currently we are investigating the use of these nanomaterials to provide highly energetic carriers and localized heating for photocatalysis. Secondly, I’ll discuss our use of ultrafast Raman spectroscopies to follow the ultrafast structural evolution of molecules which undergo singlet fission, a process in which a single photon can be converted into two electrons. Singlet fission is highly promising as a means to develop efficient organic photovoltaics, but the role of molecular structure in this process is unclear. We use femtosecond stimulated Raman microscopy to follow reaction dynamics in heterogeneous crystalline environments to aid in rational design of highly efficient organic solar cells.