Synthesis and Spectroscopy of Interfaces

Gary Blanchard


328 CEM


Associate Chair for Education

Research webpage

Primary Research Area

Analytical (An)

Other Area(s) of Interest

Biological (Bi)

Material (Ma)


(Research Description PDF)

The ability to control the physical properties and chemical selectivity of an interface is an issue central to areas of science including cellular function, energy storage, heterogeneous catalysis and chemical sensing. The Blanchard group works on the design, synthesis and characterization of interfaces with an eye toward achieving this control. We are currently focusing our energies on catalytic and ordered systems because of their broad utility.

Long Range Order in Ionic Liquids. IIonic liquids are a class of materials that can be described as salts that are liquids at room temperature. These materials are typically viscous fluids and they have found use in areas ranging from organic synthesis to chemical sensing and energy storage. The organization that exists within ionic liquids is not well understood and has until recently been thought to be on the orders of nanometers in length. Our recent work has shown that when ionic liquids are placed in proximity to a charged surface, the charge induces order that persists on the sub-millimeter lengthscale — five orders of magnitude greater than expected. These new findings not only provide insight into the structure of these systems, but also open the door to novel applications in energy storage and electronically-controlled optics.

Characterizing interfacial heterogeneity. We quantitate molecular motion on molecular length scales and over micron to millimeter length scales, using two complementary microscopy techniques. Using these techniques, we can evaluate the fluidity of a wide range of interfaces and, significantly, we can now characterize transient structural non-uniformities in mono- and bilayer films. This latter capability offers a new way to explore the presence of previously invisible spatial variations in chemical composition, with applications ranging from sensor interface design to in situ plasma membrane characterization.

Controlling interfacial fluidity. Covalently bound interfacial adlayers are not fluid, and fluid adlayers are not physically or chemically robust. These limiting cases have frustrated advances in fields such as molecular-scale lubrication, chemical separations and cellular adhesion. We are developing a novel family of interfaces that can be bound to an interface and at the same time retain the properties of a fluid. Both the thermodynamic driving force for complexation and the kinetics of surface diffusion can be controlled through metal ion complexation, system pH, the surface complexing moieties, and the amphiphile head groups.

Measuring fluidity in live cell plasma membranes. Diabetic retinopathy is a disease state that can compromise the vision of diabetic patients. It’s origins are thought to be related to chronic exposure to high glucose conditions. Diabetic hyperglycemia leads to changes in the plasma membranes of circulating angiogenic cells which make them less rigid and thus less available to perform their repair functions in vivo. We work with Professor Julia Busik’s group (physiology) to evaluate the fluidity of live cell plasma membranes using rotational and translational diffusion measurements of fluorescent molecules introduced to the cells. This work is providing new insight into the molecularscale consequences of diabetic disease state on cells.


Selected Publications

The Effect of Surface Oxygen on the Wettability and Electrochemical Properties of Boron-Doped Nanocrystalline Diamond Electrodes in Room Temperature Ionic Liquids, K. Bhardawaj, F.S. Parvis, Y. Wang, G.J. Blanchard and G.M. Swain, Langmuir 2020, 36, 5717-5729.

Characterizing the Magnitude and Structure-Dependence of Free Charge Density Gradients in Room Temperature Ionic Liquids, Y. Wang, R. Jarosova, G.M. Swain and G.J. Blanchard, Langmuir 2020, 36, 3038-3045.

Proton Abstraction Mediates Interactions Between the Super Photobase FR0-SB and Surrounding Alcohol Solvent, J. Lahiri, M. Moemeni, J. Kline, B. Borhan, I. Magoulas, S.H. Yuwono, P. Piecuch, J.E. Jackson, M. Dantus and G.J. Blanchard, J. Phys. Chem. B 2019, 123, 8448-8456.

Effects of Cu(II) on the Formation and Orientation of an Arachidic Acid Langmuir- Blodgett Film, B.A. Capistran and G. J. Blanchard, Langmuir 2019, 35, 3346-3353.

Comparing rotational and translational diffusion to evaluate heterogeneity in binary solvent systems, S.M. Baumler, J.M. Mutchler and G. J. Blanchard, J. Phys. Chem. B 2019, 123, 216-224.

Ionic Liquids: A Unique and Useful Class of Materials, K. Ma, R. Jarosova, Y. Wang, G. M. Swain and G. J. Blanchard, Chemical Educator 2018, 23, 265-272 (Invited).

Plasma exosomes contribute to microvascular damage in diabetic retinopathy (DR) by activating classical complement pathway, C. Huang, K.P. Fisher, S.S. Hammer, G. J. Blanchard and J.V. Busik, Diabetes 2018, 67, 1639-1649.

Modulation of an Induced Charge Density Gradient in the Room Temperature Ionic Liquid BMIM+BF4 , K. Ma, R. Jarosova, G.M. Swain and G.J. Blanchard, J. Phys. Chem. C 2018, 122, 7361-7367.

Synthesis and Characterization of Tb-Doped Nanoferrites, A. Rękorajska, G. Cichowicz, M. Cyranski, M. Grden, M. Pekala, G.J. Blanchard and P. Krysinski, ChemNanoMat 2018, 4, 231-242.


B.S., 1981, Bates College

Ph.D., 1985, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison

Member of Technical Staff, 1985-91, Bell Communications Research


2011 Gold Medal Award from the New York Section of the Society for Applied Spectroscopy
2004 Member National Institutes of Health (NIH Repairative Medicine Study Section)
2004 Member International Conference on Electode Processes (Scientific Committee)
2001 Member NASA (NASA Crystal Growth Review Panel)
2001 Discussion Leader Gordon Research Conference (Analytical Chemistry)
2001 - 2002 Member American Chemical Society (ACS Award in Chemical Instrumentation Jury)
1999 Organizer American Chemical Society (Symposia on Polymer Characterization and Interface Characterization, Fall National Meeting)
1999 Member National Science Foundation (NSF-CCLI Review Panel)
1998 NSF pecial Creativity Extension National Science Foundation
1998 Special Creativity Award National Science Foundation
1998 Member NASA (Environmental Health Review Panel)
1997 Organizer FACSS (Molecular Spectroscopy, Materials and Interfaces Program)
1997 Member Optical Society of America (International Organizing Committee, Optical Society of America Fall Meeting)
1996 Organizer National Science Foundation (Keystone Conference on Reconnecting the Academic and Industrial Analytical Communities - GOALI Workshop)
1995 - 1996 Member (Findeis Award Jury)
1995 - 1996 Member National Science Foundation (NSF SBIR Review Panels)
1985 Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Madison
1983 DuPont Departmental Fellowship
1981 Bachelor of Science Bates College, Lewiston, ME
1981 Graduate with Honors (Chemistry) Bates College, Lewiston, ME
1980 Eastern Analytical Symposium Student Award
1980 Summer Internship American Chemical Society (Analytical Division)