April 15, 2013

Chemistry Professor Awarded $450,000 Grant to Study Behavior of Charged Molecules in Water

Steven RickUniversity of New Orleans chemistry professor Steven Rick has been awarded a 3-year $450,000 National Science Foundation grant.

University of New Orleans chemistry professor Steven Rick has been awarded a 3-year $450,000 National Science Foundation grant to study the behavior of charged molecules in water and other solutions.  The research is important to a wide range of medical and technological areas including drug development for treatment of life-threatening degenerative diseases and the creation of more energy efficient storage materials such as those used in electric vehicles.

Researchers will develop new simulation models that are necessary to understand the transport of liquids and charged particles, also known as ions, in a variety of materials. According to Rick, the understanding of materials at a molecular level is greatly enhanced by use of computer simulations, which require a mathematical description of the interaction between particles.

The researchers will study a class of interactions called charge transfer in which one molecule shares a charge with a neighboring molecule. According to Rick, charge transfer is important because it can fundamentally change the interaction between particles. For example, it can change the tendency for ions to flow through various materials.

The results of this research could provide a better understanding of how ions interact in a variety of materials including those in the human body, water purification membranes and battery materials. The work could improve the understanding of muscle and nerve functions in the body as well as green chemistry involving water purification.

Steven Rick is a professor of chemistry who has been at the University of New Orleans since 2000. Prior to that, he was a postdoctoral associate at the National Cancer Institute in Frederick, Md. for three years.