Cover of the September 15, 2017 issue of the International Journal of Quantum Chemistry

Hartwick Professor, Student Research Earns Cover of Chemistry Journal

August 23, 2017

The cover story of the September 15 issue of the International Journal of Quantum Chemistry will spotlight research conducted by a team led by Hartwick College Associate Professor of Chemistry Dr. John Dudek, and assisted by two Hartwick students, on detecting carbon sulfur molecules in space.

The article, “Carbon–sulfur chains: A high-resolution infrared and quantum-chemical study of C3S and SC7S,” was posted online August 1.

Dudek was the lead on a team that included professors based in Germany at the University of Cologne Laboratory Astrophysics Group and others.

“One of the more interesting aspects of space is its chemistry,” Dudek said in describing the research. “What molecules exist in space and how did these molecules form? In simple terms, each molecule has its own spectral fingerprint. In order to find a molecule in space, astronomers need the molecule’s fingerprint.”

His team focused on two carbon–sulfur molecules, C3S and SC7S, which have been largely ignored by other researchers. The team recreated these compounds in a lab, then used spectroscopy and computer modeling to determine their high-resolution infrared fingerprints.

The results mark the first high-resolution spectroscopic fingerprints of the SC7S molecule.

“The publication of this article in a respected international journal underscores the ability of science faculty at primarily undergraduate institutions, like Hartwick, to undertake meaningful and impactful research,” said Hartwick Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Michael G. Tannenbaum, a former President of the Council on Undergraduate Research. “Moreover, although not listed as co-authors along with Dr. Dudek and his collaborators on this article, two Hartwick undergraduates (Justine Kozubal ’17 and Sierra Bentley ’18) assisted Dr. Dudek, who regularly engages students in these types of critical experiential and collaborative research activities.”

Last summer, Kozubal spent four weeks working in the Cologne laboratory as a part of an Emerson Scholarship. From this work, she and Dudek have published and co-authored a paper on another molecule, C5S. Bentley spent four weeks this summer working in the laboratory as part of a Duffy Scholarship. A resulting paper on the SC5S molecule will feature Bentley as co-author.

Dudek and the students have also presented results from this collaboration at national and international conferences including the International Symposium of Molecular Spectroscopy.

A majority of the research occurred in the fall of 2015, during Dudek’s sabbatical. After his sabbatical, he traveled back to Germany to spend more time completing the research on individual molecules like SC7S.

He hopes to return to Germany both in January 2018 and next summer (“hopefully with a student,” he adds) to continue the collaboration.

“There still are some carbon sulfur molecules that need to be investigated,” he said. “Afterwards, we will probably start investigating carbon silicon molecules that might exist in space.”

For more information on the International Journal of Quantum Chemistry article, visit the journal’s website.