Our research group is investigating the structure of solid surfaces and the attractive forces between gas molecules and these surfaces.  Specific projects involve the investigation of the size and shape of nanopores in carbon surfaces and the strength of the intermolecular forces that exist between carbon surfaces and gases adsorbed onto these surfaces.   Gas chromatography is used to measure the retention times for gases injected onto a column packed with porous carbon adsorbents.  Analysis of the variation of retention times with temperature allows us to characterize the attractive forces between the gas molecules and the carbon surfaces.  Computer models are matched with the data to determine the best model for the porous structure of the surface.  Theoretical analysis is done in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Tennessee.

Our results could lead to a better understanding of the fundamentals of some neat chemistry involved in e.g. hydrogen storage for fuel cells and catalytic activity of porous surfaces

Participating student researchers have presented their results at the recent South Eastern Regional meetings of the American Chemical Society (SERMACS) in Rayleigh, Atlanta and Puerto Rico.


Recent Student researchers:

Ronnie Funk, Senior Chemistry major at EC

Matt Rice, Dental School, MUSC, DMD Program

Amanda Reaves, Wake Forest Medical School, MD Program.



Student Research Presentations:

Molecular Binding Energies for Physical Adsorption on the Nanoporous Carbon Adsorbent, Carbosieve S-III, M. J. Rice, J. H. Son, T. R. Rybolt and H. E. Thomas.   SERMACS conference in Richmond, Virginia, October, 2011

Molecule-nanoporous carbon interactions and the use of double walled carbon nanotube models to represent porosity, C. R. Funk, J. H. Son, T. R. Rybolt and H. E. Thomas.   SERMACS conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, November, 2012.

Double walled carbon nanotube and graphene bilayer models for a general representation of carbon nanoporosity and molecule-surface binding energies, H.W. Cho, J. H. Son, T. R. Rybolt, C. R. Funk, M. J. Rice, H. E. Thomas, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Erskine College, Due West, SC.   SERMACS conference in Atlanta, Georgia, November, 2013.

Student Publications:

Binding Energies for Alkane Molecules on a Carbon Surface from Gas-Solid Chromatography and Molecular Mechanics.  Thomas R. Rybolt, Howard E. Thomas, Christina E. Wells, Craig M. Goodwin, Jennifer L. Blakely, James D. Turner, Journal of Colloid & Surface Science, 2008, 325, 282.

Comparison of Gas-Solid Chromatography and MM2 Force Field Molecular Binding Energies for Greenhouse Gases on a Carbonaceous Surface.  Thomas R. Rybolt, Kevin T. Bivona, Howard E. Thomas, and Casey M. O’Dell, Journal of Colloid & Surface Science, 2009, 338, 287.