Well that was interesting. Perhaps not entirely relevant in places, but things don’t have to be relevant to be interesting — at least to me (as anyone who reads this blog might come to realise).
Unusually, one of the most useful talks in the conference for me was actually one concerning gas phase biomolecules! Now normally biochemistry puts me to sleep, if I’m perfectly honest. Protein folding, electronic structure of enzymes and suchlike mostly fail to float my boat… Not in this case! Caroline Dessent, a ZEKE spectroscopist from York University gave a very interesting talk on the troubles of working with large molecular ions (especially if your equipment needs to use a molecular beam). She went on to discuss some computational chemistry and some methods for categorising molecular isomers and conformers into ‘families’ so that you only need to run calculations on the most useful (and stable!) configurations. Understandably, as for most biomolecules, if you tried calculating for every single configuration, you’d probably spend years doing so!
“Contour plot of the H3 potential energy surface in Cartesian coordinates…”
Stuart Greaves presented some fascinating work on a ‘tug of war’ mechanism for inelastic scattering off deuterium molecules. Some mechanisms seem more elegant the more you think about them. This one certainly is!
I also, I think, need to read up a bit about conical intersections and linear wells. Sometimes talks do a lot to show you where the gaps are in your knowledge
Other interesting points included a method dubbed PhotoStop for capturing molecules in magnetic traps by hitting them with photons of just the right energy; how to use quantum dynamics to deconvolve polyatomic spectra; some interesting dynamics of dication reactions; the use of applied electromagnetic fields to create conical intersections; and, of course, a talk about those protonated PAH molecules…
All in all, rather an interesting day!