Thomas Albrecht-Schoenzart

Professor, Chemistry

Deep into the periodic table the increasing effects of relativity, spin-orbit coupling, and the subtle rearrangement of frontier orbital energies challenges our ability to predict and understand the chemical and physical properties of heavy elements like berkelium, californium, and einsteinium. Recent experimental and computational developments reveal that models based on monotonic changes in electronic structure across heavy element series do not occur, and that perhaps the current arrangement of the periodic table has started to unravel. Our group prepares and studies rare of examples of materials and complexes of the heaviest elements for which macroscopic properties can be obtained from nuclear reactors. We use a wide variety of characterization tools, but focus extensively on advanced X-ray diffraction techniques in order to probe the electronic structure of f-block compounds. We work extensively with theorists to understand the origins of the exotic properties of these elements. The ultimate goal of this work is to understand the bonding in these elements well enough for molecules and materials to be tailored to achieve desired properties, which is currently quite challenging to achieve.

EDUCATION

  • B.S. Southwest State University (1993)
  • M.S. Northwestern University (1994)
  • Ph.D. Northwestern University (1997)
  • Postdoc, University of Illinois, (1997-1998)