[Emerging research areas banner]

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry is leading the way in the research areas that will be at the forefront of 21st-century science and technology. These fields include theoretical chemistry; chemical biology, exotic materials, structural biology and proteomics, and supple electronics.
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UCLA has one of the strongest theoretical chemistry groups in the country. Six fulltime theoreticians, four in physical chemistry, one in organic chemistry, and one in biochemistry work on an incredibly diverse set of problems, including reactions at surfaces, materials interface adhesion and degradation, novel architectures of organic and electronic materials, protein structure elucidation, bioinformatics, and the physical behavior of complex fluids. In addition to these application areas, theorists at UCLA are developing many new techniques, including novel signal processing algorithms, new ab initio electron correlation methods, ab initio simulations of kinetics and dynamics, and a diverse set of approaches for describing complex systems across many length and time scales.

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Multidisciplinary research at the interface of chemistry and biology is a major activity in the department. Increasing numbers of our students graduating with chemistry Ph.D. degrees are finding employment in positions that require familiarity with the language and techniques of biology and experience in applying chemical approaches to the solution of biological research problems. The department has a strong predoctoral training program that meets this need with graduate courses and research laboratories in many areas of bioorganic, biophysical and bioinorganic chemistry. This research and training program at the chemistry-biology interface is enhanced by our proximity to and strong interactions with the many research scientists, seminar programs and extensive research facilities of the UCLA Medical Center and the UCLA Molecular Biology Institute.

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The university has established an Exotic Materials Institute to foster interdisciplinary interaction among groups of synthetic chemists, experimental and theoretical physical scientists and engineers. The objective is to design and synthesize condensed-matter materials directed toward desired physical properties; e.g., superconductors, metals, semiconductors, semiconductor devices, ferromagnets, ceramics, liquid crystals, etc. We utilize the versatility of synthetic chemistry to create novel materials, having selected structural features with the eventual goal of using these materials in technology. It is through these kinds of novel materials that new concepts and phenomena are uncovered.

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An integrated group of structural biologists at UCLA aims ultimately to describe life in three dimensions at the atomic level. This mission is inspired by the avalanche of information flowing from genome sequencing projects and is fostered by the UCLA-DOE Laboratory of Structural Biology and Molecular Medicine. On this frontier problem, investigators bring to bear a variety of powerful tools, including crystallography, multidimensional NMR and computational analysis. The highly interdisciplinary research programs offer special opportunities for talented students with diverse scientific backgrounds in molecular biology, chemistry and biochemistry, computing, mathematics and physics.

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Research into the chemistry and physics of supple electronic materials and devices constitutes a major interdisciplinary theme within the department. Organic, inorganic, physical and theoretical groups within the department, as well as other groups from engineering and physics, are working together to fabricate a broad class of novel electronic devices. These include: self-assembled networks of molecular switches and resonant tunneling diodes integrated with quantum wires; organic-derived photonic devices such as photovoltaics and light-emitting diodes; and acoustically modulated optical switching crossbars built from quantum dot superstructures. Other related areas of research include photonic band gap materials, switches based on magnetoresistive elements and single electron charging devices.

[Image of silver quantum dots]

A Langmuir monolayer of silver quantum dots that is undergoing an acoustically generated, reversible metal/insulator transition. This technology, which is being developed in the Heath and Levine laboratories, may be used to fabricate vastly improved optical switching networks.

(C.P. Collier, S. Henrichs and J. Heath; image by the UCLA Visualization Lab.)

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