Watching molecules move

Velocity-Mapped Ion Imaging hits 30 years of research at Sandia

By Michael Padilla

Thirty years ago, David Chandler (8300) built an apparatus at Sandia’s Combustion Research Facility to image the fragments of a molecule as it fell apart. At the time, David had no idea what a tremendous impact his research would have on understanding how molecules behave when excited by light or struck by another molecule or atom.

Since its first description in a 1987 publication coauthored by David and his collaborator, Prof. Paul Houston, this breakthrough research — first called photo-fragment imaging and now called, as the technique has evolved, velocity-mapped ion imaging (VMI) — has been referenced in almost 2,000 peer-reviewed, scientific articles. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the VMI technique, the Journal of Chemical Physics has devoted a special issue in 2017 to VMI and has invited three guest editors: David, Houston, and Prof. David Parker of Radboud University.

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About the photo:

David Chandler adjusts equipment in his lab at the CRF. David has been conducting research on velocity-mapped ion imaging since the late 1980s. (Photo by Randy Wong)

 

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