About Us

Contents: Chemical Physics, Environmental Sciences & Energy Research,
Materials & Interfaces
, Organic Chemistry, Structural Biology,
Chemical Research Support

Chemical Physics [Website] [Scientific Activities] [Top of Page]

Research in the Department covers a broad spectrum of topics, including many subjects of current interest in chemistry and physics. Areas of research include theoretical studies of turbulence, the physics of fractals, properties of glass, chaos (classical and quantum), tunneling and dissipative phenomena, kinetics, and dynamics in surface condensed phases and ultrafast processes. Other areas include experimental and theoretical diffusion studies of the interaction of coherent light with matter, nonlinear optics, laser-induced processes in van der Waals molecules, coherent control of chemical reactions, cooling of molecules, and theoretical quantum optics in dispersive media and in microcavities. A different area of active research is the study of the structure and properties of large molecular systems, and of the interaction of electrons and molecules with organized thin films. Molecules on semiconductor surfaces are studied by a combination of lasers and STM. A strong magnetic resonance group is active within the department, working in fields such as solid state NMR, MASS NMR of semiconductors, liquid crystals and proteins, porous materials, as well as pulsed EPR and electron-nuclear double resonance on metalloenzymes and porous solids. The department encourages interdisciplinary approaches to science, and there is much collaboration among members of the department and scientists and students from other faculties such as physics and the life sciences.

Environmental Sciences & Energy Research [Website] [Scientific Activities] [Top of Page]

This Department, established in 1990, is dedicated to understanding the complex interrelationships among the major earth systems and between the human need for energy and the consequent impact on the earth's environment. This requires knowledge of all the interdependent ecosystems that together constitute the "environment", as well as a commitment to improving the manner in which energy is utilized by humans.

The Department's research activities have several areas of focus. One is in the field of physical oceanography and hydrology. A second is in the use of stable isotopes for paleoclimatic reconstructions and biosphere-atmosphere interactions, and a third is in the field of atmospheric chemistry. Research in solar energy is conducted in a dedicated facility, the Solar Tower, on campus. The Department is distinguished by the fact that many collaborations exist among faculty members from quite different backgrounds. Such collaborations are viewed as essential in the fields of environmental and energy sciences. The interdisciplinary nature of the Department is well reflected in the academic training of the research students. Their backgrounds vary enormously from physics to biology and geology. We encourage the participation of students who are interested in not only investigating in depth a specific subject, but who are also interested in a broader, more integrative approach to science.

Materials & Interfaces [Website] [Scientific Activities] [Top of Page]

The scientific research of the department focuses on the understanding and design of functional materials with unique physical and chemical properties. This includes a broad range of materials, such as solids with extended bonding displaying cooperative properties (superconductors and semiconductors); nanomaterials, like carbon nanotubes, and inorganic nanotubes; ultra-thin ferroelectric films; solids and liquids with mainly molecular bonding, such as complex fluids and molecular crystals; ultra-thin organic, inorganic and biological films and assemblies; size-quantized nanoparticles and fulleroids; molecularly functionalized semiconductors; metals and polymers, including polymer brushes and polymers for cloud seeding; and nanocomposites displaying unique mechanical properties. Biopolymer mechanics and molecular transport phenomena in the cell; imitation of biological transport strategies. Planned self-assembly of novel nanostructures on scanning-probe-patterned organic monolayer templates. Three new research groups have been established: Dr. Ernesto Joselevich -- carbon nanotubes and scanning probe microscopy; Dr. Roy Bar-Ziv -- studies the mechanisms of biological transcription on silicon chip using microfabriction and microfluidics; Dr. Leeor Kronik -- uses density functional theory to study clusters, nanocrystalline materials, and optical phenomena in semiconductors. Several groups in the department are developing novel theoretical and experimental methodologies for probing liquid-liquid, solid-liquid, solid-solid, solid-gas and liquid-gas interfaces. These include force measurements techniques at Angstrom surface separation; nanomechanical testing techniques; electrochemistry; grazing angle X-ray diffraction and X-ray reflectivity using bright and collimated light from synchrotron sources; second harmonic generation; optical tweezers; scanning probe microscopy and spectroscopy, grazing angle infrared spectroscopy; and unique applications of X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. Two new research facilities, which are used extensively by the department scientists, have been completed this year, namely the high resolution electron microscopy laboratory, and the combined "clean room"/microfabrication/biological specimen manipulation laboratory.

Organic Chemistry [Website] [Scientific Activities] [Top of Page]

The areas of research in the Department of Organic Chemistry include synthetic and mechanistic organic and organometallic chemistry, novel reactions for organic synthesis, bond activation by metal complexes, polymeric reagents, catalysis, and computational chemistry. Bioorganic chemistry includes the studies of plant antiviral agents, the molecular mechanism of action of rhodopsin, artificial ion carriers and molecular sensors. Biological chemistry includes studies on structure,function, and mode of action of biologically active peptides and proteins; thermophilic enzymes; enzymes involved in DNA repair, DNA and RNA processing; studies of ordered, compact states of nucleic acids; and biomedical applications of EPR and NMR. Computational quantum chemistry deals with the prediction of molecular properties and reaction mechanisms by ab initio and density functional methods.

Structural Biology [Website] [Scientific Activities] [Top of Page]

Structural biology is an increasingly important and exciting area. At the Weizmann Institute, much of the research in this area is carried out in the Faculty of Chemistry. Current research projects involve utilization of the main methodologies available for biological structural studies, such as X-ray crystallography, NMR, electron microscopy, molecular biology, and various other spectroscopic techniques. Modern and sophisticated instrumentational facilities are available, most of which are state-of-the-art. Studies are being performed to determine molecular structures and structure-function relationships in biological macromolecules, such as proteins, DNA chains and their complexes. Efforts are directed towards the design of potential drugs. Whole intracellular assemblies and organelles such as the ribosomes, which contain dozens of macromolecules, are being investigated. The powerful techniques of site-directed mutagenesis and thermodynamics are being used for in-detail characterization of the interactions that stabilize proteins and for determining their activity. Antigen-antibody complexes and other protein-protein interactions such as that of interferon with its receptor are being studied by multi-dimensional NMR methods. Biomineralization, i.e. controlled mineral deposition by organisms to form skeletal tissues, is being investigated from the molecular interactions between proteins and crystals to the ultrastructure and properties of the tissue.

Chemical Research Support [Website] [Scientific Activities] [Top of Page]

Chemical Research Support offers advanced and routine facilities for analytical and preparative chemical techniques to Institute scientists. Each unit is headed by a Research Fellow or a Staff Scientist and is operated by qualified personnel. The development program for Chemical Research Support and its mode of operation is supervised by Users' Committees and by scientific advisers. The Unit consists of the following subunits:

  1. The Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) equipped with high resolution Fourier transform NMR spectrometers ranging from 250 to 800 MHz.
  2. The Electron Spin Resonance (ESR) Unit equipped with a Bruker ER 200 D-SRC spectrometer (9.5 GHz, X band). The various measurement techniques for radicals and paramagnetic ions in solid state and in solution are available at a wide range of temperatures.
  3. The Chemical Analysis Laboratory provides training, consultation and method development for separation, purification, and isolation of a wide range of organic compounds by gas chromatography (GC), mass spectrometry (MS), high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), Amino Acids, Atomic Absorption spectrophotometry, and Micro RAMAN analysis.
  4. The X-ray Crystallography and Light Scattering Facility offers facilities for advanced chemical, biochemical, physical and geophysical research.
  5. The Surface Analysis Unit provides the means for a variety of surface sensitive measurements, including chemical composition of exposed atomic layers, atomic scale surface topography, electronic and mechanical surface properties.
  6. The Electron Microscopy unit offers services to all departments of the Institute. The Unit helps scientists from different fields to carry out their own research using the Unit's equipment. It provides on-the-spot practical training in electron microscopy and sample preparation.
  7. The Molecular Modeling Unit provides diverse modeling services to many groups in the Chemistry and Biology faculties. These include homology modeling and fold recognition for proteins, protein-protein docking and ligand-protein docking, conformational analysis of organic molecules, DNA/RNA-ligand interactions and analysis of macromolecular assemblies.
  8. The Organic Synthesis unit carries out synthesis of non-commercially available chemicals. These include a wide variety of organic compounds such as polymers, porphyrins, steroids, isotopically labeled oligopeptides, spin labeled chemicals, etc.
  9. The Chemical and Biophysical Nanosciences unit, which aims at promoting research in processes and phenomena in (bio)chemistry, (bio)physics and materials research on the nanometer scale. An important aspect of this development is the technological need for miniaturization. Fundamental scientific issues are addressed in the areas of synthesis of nanomaterials, nanomanipulation of matter, chemistry and physics of mesoscopic objects and of biomaterials.

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Faculty of Chemistry, Weizmann Institute of Science
Comments and Suggestions to: Gershom Martin
Last Updated: Monday, 01-Dec-2008 14:32:18 IST