Scott K. Shaw

Associate Professor
Director of Graduate Studies

Research interests

Research in the Shaw group combines modern analytical techniques with materials and physical chemistry to create new understanding of the molecular-level behavior at interfaces. Current and start-up projects span chemical systems that are both fundamentally intriguing and extremely relevant to current needs of our technology-driven society. Advances in these areas will allow predictive design of new, improved devices in a range of applications including energy production, polymeric materials, corrosion science, environmental remediation, microfluidics, and biomedical implanted devices. A few selected projects are outlined below. Experimental techniques encompass surface-sensitive optical spectroscopies, non-linear spectroscopies, probe microscopies, electrochemical methods, tensiometry, and novel sample preparation techniques, all targeted at revealing the interfacial properties of otherwise opaque chemical systems.    

Research area 1: Intermolecular interactions of solvents with material interfaces

This project aims to develop the understanding of complex chemical interactions between solvent molecules and surfaces and will impact fundamental surface science as well as applied materials chemistry. Employing the novel sampling geometry, dynamic dewetting, thin fluid layers are created on solid surfaces. The molecular architectures formed within the thin fluid films are examined over varying thicknesses to reveal interfacial chemical environments. By tuning intermolecular interactions, the role of van der Waals forces, hydrogen bonding, micro-viscocity, and other chemical phenomena can be more adequately understood and applied to solve challenges in chemistry and materials science.

Research area 2: Ionic liquids as advanced materials

Ionic liquids are incredibly interesting and useful materials, and advanced study on their surface and interfacial properties is just beginning. At an interface, ionic liquids can self-assemble into very large domains of ordered materials, which could be useful as sensors, energy storage devices, or electronic materials. The Shaw group uses advanced spectroscopic techniques and sampling geometries to exclusively examine the interfacial regions on device relevant materials including metals and semiconductors. A primary goal of this work is the implementation of ionic liquids in the remediation of atmospheric carbon dioxide and subsequent electrochemical reduction of CO2 to useful materials such as ethylene or methane.

Research area 3: Environmental surface films imact air and water quality

Biogenic and anthropogenic emissions enter the Earth’s atmosphere at a rate of millions of tons per day. After varying residence times, these emissions return to Earth’s surfaces in the form of complex environmental films, commonly recognized as window grime. These films can grow to thicknesses of 10’s of microns and act as environmental sponges, collecting persistent environmental pollutants within their volumes across vast urban and suburban landscapes. The Shaw group is actively researching the chemical profile and dynamics of these films. We hope to understand the role of the films’ chemical and physical morphology in the fate and transport of airborne pollutants.

Rural scholars program

For details on the rural scholars program, please follow this link.

View Shaw CV

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Research areas
  • Analytical chemistry
Scott K. Shaw portrait

University of Iowa
W476 Chemistry Building (CB)
230 N. Madison Street
Iowa City, IA 52240
United States