One of the major challenges for the physical sciences is to explore how the macroscopic properties of condensed phases, materials and biological systems emerge from complex non-covalent interactions at the microscopic level. The interplay between the different classes of non-covalent interactions such as hydrogen bonding, dispersion interaction and steric repulsion emerges already on the level of isolated weakly bound molecular clusters. The PhD project will be focusing on vibrational spectroscopy of weakly bound molecular clusters between simple organic compounds and water embedded in inert condensed phases and isolated in supersonic jet expansions at low temperatures. Hydrogen bonds between organic molecules and water are of particular interest, ranging from fundamental questions concerning conformational isomerism and relative hydrogen donor and acceptor preferences which are responsible for the microscopic origin of anomalous thermodynamic properties such as heats of mixing, volume contractions and azeotropic behavior of liquid mixtures to more applied questions related to separation technologies for industrial production of biofuels and chemicals.
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