Applications for Environmental Chemistry

IMSERC houses a large pool of modern instrumentation for environmental chemists. Our center is integrated with the Chemistry Department at Northwestern University where scientists run their experiments on a 24/7 basis. From monitoring reactions to full structure elucidation, researchers and students have access to a variety of techniques that can be used for:

Crystallographic atomic structure determination, unit cell and bonding environment of inorganic compounds, extended solids, extended polymers, frameworks, minerals, etc.

  • Determination of unit cell and bonding environment (bond-lengths, bond-angles, cation-anion coordination, site-ordering, etc)
  • Determination of extended structure and packing of building blocks
  • Determination of (non)centrosymmetric or chiral topologies
  • Refinement of modulated and twinned structures (incommensurate, commensurate, composite superstructures)
  • High resolution data for charge density measurement and precise assignment of atoms with similar chemical environment
  • Evaluation of sample purity (sensitivity of ~2% by weight)
  • Quantitative determination of individual crystalline phases and impurities in mixtures of powder
  • Monitor reactions in real time as a function of time, temperature, pressure, and gas flow/pressure
  • Probe catalytic changes to substrates
  • Investigate decomposition mechanism
  • Construction of phase diagrams
  • Rocking curve measurements for evaluation of defect density and quality of crystals
  • Texture measurements and orientation of grains in a polycrystalline sample
  • Strain analysis
  • In-situ monitoring of crystallization processes with increasing temperature

Crystallographic atomic structure determination of nanomaterials, nanoparticles and amorphous materials

  • Particle size of crystalline phase
  • Total scattering techniques in combination with synchrotron and/or neutron radiation
  • Modeling and atomic structure determination of nanoparticles and glasses

Thermal analysis which can be coupled with GC-MS for the determination of:

  • Melting point using either Differential Thermal Analysis or Differential Scanning Calorimetry
  • Crystallization transition using either Differential Thermal Analysis or Differential Scanning Calorimetry
  • Glass transition using Differential Scanning Calorimetry
  • Decomposition temperature using ThermoGravimetric analysis which can be coupled with GC-MS for the identification of the decomposition products
  • Temperature of combustion with ThermoGravimetric analysis and identification of combustion volatiles using GC-MS
  • In-situ monitoring of solid-state reactions using Differential Thermal Analysis

Qualitative and Quantitative elemental analyses for light and heavy elements

  • Halide determination (Chlorine, Bromine, Iodine) in solids or liquids using X-ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy
  • Survey of impurities and elements heavier than Sodium with X-ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy
  • Impurity analysis of Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, and Sulfur in solid materials by using combustion CHNS analysis

Optical spectroscopy

  • Determination of functional groups and likely solvent molecules using Infrared (IR) spectroscopy
  • Vibrational stretches using Raman and IR Spectroscopy
  • Color, band gap, and absorption measurements using Ultra-violet (UV), visible (Vis), and IR spectroscopies
  • Photoluminescence, lifetime phosphorescence, and emission measurements using spectrofluorimeter

NMR structure elucidation of natural products and unexpected reaction products