Matt Sprague's Research
Matt Sprague-IC Class of 2005
(Currently in Ph.D. Program in Atmospheric Chemistry at California Institute of Technology)
IC Bachelor of Science in Chemistry,Bachelor of Arts in Physics, and a Minor in Trumpet' 05
(Matt has visited IC in winter of 2009. See more news on Matts endeavors here).
Welcome to my corner of the chemistry webpage! Here’s a little information about me. I was born in Calcutta, India in 1983. After 8 weeks, I was adopted, and moved to the United States, where I’ve been ever since. I grew up in the Rochester, NY area, only 2 hours away from Ithaca. Academically, I’ve been interested in math and science for pretty much my entire life, which explains why I’m a chemistry major. I’m also an avid musician; I’ve been playing in my school’s bands since I was 9. I started on clarinet, but eventually ended up on trumpet. I’ve spent two years studying under Frank Campos here at Ithaca College, and I’m currently a member of the Symphonic Band. Outside of my work, I like to play videogames, read books (from Lord of the Rings to sociology primers), watch football (go Buffalo Bills!), and walk around campus.
Research Projects at Ithaca College
One of my projects is determining how many methanol (CH3OH) molecules are required to solvate a methoxide (CH3O-) anion. We can determine this number experimentally by using a mass spectrometer to measure methanol cluster masses. In addition, we can also model our chemical systems using computational chemistry. The combination of these two techniques should allow us to determine the most stable solvation system. Advisor: Dr. Vincent DeTuri.
My second project is creating and collecting visual aids for molecular orbital theory. Current Inorganic Chemistry and Physical Chemistry students can often become confused when attempting to learn the shapes of atomic and molecular orbitals. Graphic technology is available that will allow us to model these orbitals rigorously. Our final goal is to develop a suite of computer files that students can use to easily visualize orbital shapes and chemical bonding. Advisor: Anna Larsen
Research Projects outside of Ithaca College
Summer 2004 – Sandia National Laboratories – Livermore, CA
A surfactant is a chemical that contains a long, hydrophobic carbon chain along with a polar headgroup. Surfactants are useful in industry because of their ability to reduce surface tension, as well as their ability to form aggregates called micelles. Micelles allow us to dissolve organic compounds in aqueous solutions. Over the summer, we classified new cleavable surfactants that were synthesized at Sandia. These surfactants included a thermally cleavable surfactant and a catalytically cleavable surfactant. We used light scattering to measure micelle size, and dye solubilization to measure micelle formation. These properties are useful in synthesizing advanced materials, such as zeolites and nanoparticles. Advisor: Blake Simmons. Team Members: James McElhanon, Thomas Zifer, Gregory Jamison, Seth Carmody
Summer 2003 – Sandia National Laboratories – Livermore, CA
Over the summer, we synthesized cadmium sulfide (CdS) nanoparticles in a surfactant mesophase (that’s a fancy word for gel). Previous work was completed in a liquid phase, and we wanted to determine how the nanoparticle properties changed with the phase of the system. We determined shapes of the nanoparticles using x-ray diffraction. We determined light emission properties using a fluorimeter and UV-vis spectrophotometer. In addition, we attempted to spin coat our particles onto glass wafers. We measured the particle positions and patterns using a scanning electron microscope. Advisor: Blake Simmons. Team Members: Nancy Yang, Scott Spangler, Jeffrey Chames, Gene Lucadamo
Summer 2002 – Sandia National Laboratories – Livermore, CA
Polyurethane foams are used in many industrial applications as a structural protection layer, such as in automobile bumpers. The physical and structural properties of such a foam are determined primarily by reaction characteristics. Over the summer, we evaluated foam formation properties using a commercial foam qualification system. The data that we obtained allowed us to refine a new foam formulation developed at Sandia. Advisor: LeRoy Whinnery (’85)