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Janet Macdonald

Associate Professor of Chemistry
Associate Director, Interdisciplinary Materials Science Program

Dr. Macdonald will be accepting graduate students for Fall 2025.

Our group has three major foci.

The largest research program of the group is in the synthesis of nanocrystals, specifically understanding the factors that determine the crystalline phase when reagents are thrown "in the pot" at the high temperatures of 150-300°C typically used in nanocrystal synthesis. As well as employing novel reagents and the traditional tools of materials characterization such as XRD and TEM, we also employ techniques more commonly used in organic chemistry such as 1H, 13C and exotic nuclei NMR to determine molecular changes that happen during the reactions. Along the way, we have been discovering new phases never seen in nature before. A long term goal is that the fundamental research into phase control will provide the tools to discover even more un-natural crystalline phases.

Our group also tackles important problems in using quantum dots (nanocrystals of semiconductor materials) as solar energy capture material. We have worked on solving unstable surface chemistry and more recently using synthetic tools to improve charge transfer out of the quantum dots.

Lastly, our group prepares thin films of differing plasmonic nanocrystals that can couple their plasmons for enhanced second and third harmonic generation of light. This project is in collaboration with the group of Vanderbilt Physics Professor Richard Haglund.