John C. Light Professor Emeritus

Born Mt. Vernon, New York, 1934.
Oberlin College, A.B., 1956.
Harvard University, Ph.D., 1960.
Universitè Libre de Bruxelles, National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, 1959-1961.
The University of Chicago, Professor, 1961-.

Accolades

Fellow, American Physical Society.
Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Phi Beta Kappa.
Sigma Xi.
1994- International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science.
1983-1997 Editor, Journal of Chemical Physics; Senior Associate Editor, 1998-.
1966-1970 Alfred P. Sloan Fellow.

OFFICE: RI 333, 5640 S Ellis Ave, Chicago, IL 60637

PHONE: (773)702-7197

FAX: (773)702-5863

E-MAIL: j-light@uchicago.edu

WEB: http://light-group.uchicago.edu/

RESEARCH INTERESTS:

Recent advances in experimental techniques such as molecular beams, very short and intense laser pulses, and surface scattering instruments, permit the study of the dynamics of atoms and molecules with unprecedented precision. Specific quantum dynamical processes such as state selected reaction cross sections, state selected photodissociation, inelastic and reactive molecule-surface scattering, and intramolecular energy transfer are now accessible to measurement. These measurements give information on the potential energy surfaces involved and may give control of specific dynamical processes. Fundamental dynamical questions are now amenable to measurement and analysis. For example, the vibration-rotation spectroscopy of small molecules is now probing highly excited regions of potential energy surfaces, exploring the relation between classically &chaotic" systems and the real quantized molecules.


A goal of my research is to determine mathematical models of such processes which can lead to a qualitative and quantitative understanding of the dynamics. Accurate quantum calculations by "standard" methods are usually limited to very small systems (low dimensionality) and/or low energies by computational difficulty. Thus we have focused on methods of quantum solutions of such multidimensional problems. Our focus is on new theoretical, mathematical, and algorithmic techniques which are often applicable to a wide variety of scientific problems.


For example, methods solving the large amplitude vibration-rotation dynamics of triatomic molecules, permit the solution of reactive scattering problems. As computers become larger and faster, the range of problems soluble by "standard" approaches increases linearly. However, we are interested in approaches and algorithms which permit non-linear advances in our ability to solve interesting larger problems. Over the past few years we have developed very general approaches to the quantum dynamics which can be used for both vibration-rotation spectroscopy and collision processes. The Discrete Variable Representation (DVR) permits complex systems to be represented simply mathematically, and permits the equations of quantum dynamics to be solved much more simply.


Using these methods we have recently evaluated exact quantum thermal rate constants (quantum transition state theory), vibration-rotation levels of polyatomic molecules, state-to-state cross sections, surface scattering including adsorption, dissociative adsorption, and diffusion, ultra cold atom-surface scattering, and photodissociation resonances and cross sections.


We are interested in innovative theoretical and algorithmic approaches to problems in chemical physics as well as the solution of specific important problems.


Selected References

Vibrational energy levels of ozone up to dissociation revisited. J. Chem. Phys., 120, 5859 (2004).

Molecular Vibrations: Iterative solution with energy selected bases. J. Chem. Phys.,118,3458 (2003).

Quasi-random distributed Gaussian bases for bound problems. J. Chem. Phys 114, 3929 (2001).

Surface self-diffusion of hydrogen on Cu(100); a quantum kinetic equation approach. J. Chem. Phys. 113, 1204 (2000).

Discrete Variable Representations and their Utilization. Adv. Chem. Phys., 114, 263 (2000).

Quantum/classical time-dependent self-consistent field treatment of Ar-HCO. J. Chem. Phys. 110, 4280 (1999).

Six-dimensional Quantum Calculation of the Intermolecular Bound States for water dimer. J. Chem. Phys., 110, 168 (1999).

Quantum dynamics of an Eley-Rideal gas surface reaction: four dimensional planar model for H(D)(gas) + D(H)-Cu(111). J. Chem. Phys., 110, 6511 (1999).