We use water-soluble hosts and the formation of supramolecular complexes to probe fundamental phenomena observed in aqueous solution. In particular, we are interested in garnering information about the Hydrophobic Effect (the phenomenon whereby oil and water don’t mix), and the Hofmeister Effect (most succinctly put as how salts affect the solubility of organic solutes). Both phenomena are of immense importance to the biological realm where they control biomolecule structure and function, and medicinal chemistry where they modulate drug delivery and binding. They are also key factors in a host of other fields including green chemistry and environmental remediation.
We primarily use a combination of Isothermal Titration Calorimetry (ITC), Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS), UV-vis and fluorescence spectrometry, to probe the systems in question. In particular we are interested in the hydration of different molecular surfaces, and how cations and anions interact with the non-polar or charged areas in a solute. To aid us in these endeavors we collaborate with computational chemists who provide an atomistic, in silico perspective on the systems under study.