Scott L. Anderson Research Group

Scott L. Anderson

Philosophy Corner

Contact Information

Office: 1224 Henry Eyring Building (HEB) North wing
Department of Chemistry, University of Utah,
315 S. 1400 E. RM Dock, Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0850
Phone : (801) 585 - 7289 FAX: (801)581-8433 Group: (801) 581-6644
E-Mail :

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B. A. Rice University, 1977 (P. R. Brooks)
Ph. D. University of California at Berkeley, 1981 (Y. T. Lee)
Postdoctoral, Stanford University, 1981-83 (R. N. Zare)


Robert W. Parry Teaching Award (2015)
Distinguished Professor, U of Utah, 2011
Fellow, American Assoc. for the Advancement of Science, 2011
U of Utah Distinguished and Creative Research Award, 2007
Fellow, American Physical Society, 2005
NSF Creativity Award, 2004-2006
Invitation Fellow, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, 2002
Professeur Invité, Université Paris-Sud, 1990, 1991
Visiting Scientist, Fakultät für Physik der Universität Freiburg, 1990
Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation Teacher-Scholar, 1989-1994
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellow, 1989-1990
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellow,1988-1990

Research Interests – Physical and Analytical Chemistry

Anderson group research is generally in the area of nanoparticle surface chemistry, but with four distinct research foci, ranging from single nanoparticles isolated in the gas phase, to size-selected catalysts and electrocatalysts, to methods for production and characterization of surface-functionalized high energy density nanoparticles for propellant applications.

The title for each of the sections below is a link to more information, including recent results.  Information about earlier projects in fullerene chemistry, state-selected ion chemistry, gas-phase metal cluster chemistry, and soft x-ray photochemistry can be found in the publication list linked to below. There are also links to several software and hardware projects that may be of interest.

Size-Selected Model Supported Catalysts

The goal of these experiments is to probe the correlations between supported cluster size, morphology, electronic structure, adsorbate binding sites, support properties, and catalytic activity, and thereby, to learn about catalyst active sites, mechanisms, and approaches to improving activity/selectivity. We use size- and energy-selected metal cluster ion deposition on well-characterized oxide surfaces to prepare model catalysts, which are then studied using a variety of in situ techniques. The electronic structure of the samples is probed by a combination of XPS, UPS, and INS. Low energy ion scattering is used to probe the cluster morphology, and how it is modified by reactant adsorption, heating, etc. Chemical properties are probed by a variety of mass spectrometric methods. The goals are to understand the relationships between cluster size, support interactions, electronic properties, and catalytic activity.

Effects of Site Size on Electrocatalytic Reactions

Effects of site size on electrocatalytic reactionsWe have recently begun a project using cluster deposition to probe the effects of catalyst site size on aqueous electrochemical reactions.  Size-selected electrodes are prepared by cluster deposition in UHV, characterized using surface analysis tools, and then transferred without air exposure, to an antechamber where their activity for electrochemical reactions such as oxygen reduction and ethanol oxidation can be studied.  Very strong effects of cluster size on both activity (current densities) and product branching are observed.  The figure summarizes recent results for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) over Ptn/ITO electrodes. Note that the ORR onset potential is only modestly dependent on size, however, the branching ratio between production of H­2O and H2O2 (represented by the HPOR/ORR ratio) is strongly size dependent.  We attribute this to inability of the small clusters to dissociate O2, thus promoting H2O2 formation.

Optical and Surface Chemical Properties of Single Trapped Nanoparticles

There are many problems in nanoscience where measures average over a distribution of particle s izes or composition. Single particle measurement can be used sort out the effects of this inhomogeneity, but in condensed phase measurements there is still unavoidable inhomogeneity resulting from the different (and time dependent) local environments around the particles. We have developed a method to probe single nanoparticles trapped in controlled atmospheres in a 3-d quadrupole trap. Particles of interest include semiconductor quantum dots, metal nanoparticles, and viruses. The method allows us to determine the particle mass to precision approaching 1 ppm, which is sufficient to detect changes in the surface layer composition corresponding to ~1% of a monolayer, thus allowing surface reaction kinetics to be measured. In addition, for fluorescent particles, such as quantum dots, the method provides a unique probe of the optical properties of quantum dots isolated in the gas phases. Particles can be heated, to temperatures approaching Tsublimation, if desired, and exposed to both inert and reactive gases, while continuously monitoring both optical and surface chemical behavior.

Nanoparticle Fuel Additives

We are exploring methods to produce high energy density nanoparticles with controlled surface chemistry, for use as additives to fuels ranging from hydrocarbon jet fuels to rocket propellants. The goals are to enhance combustion rates (catalytic surface modifications) and to add energy density (boron or aluminum cores) while maintaining high solubility in the fuel, and passivating the particles against premature air-oxidation during storage and handling. Particles are generated by high energy milling, and characterized by a combination of XPS, SEM, STEM, EDX, EELS, DLS, and combustion studies. The methods may also be relevant to preparation of bio-compatible boron nanoparticles for use in boron neutron capture therapy.

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Last Updated: 7/29/16