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. Ionic 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 opens the door to novel applications in energy storage and electronically-controlled optics.

Using Catalysis to Convert Biofeedstock to Hydrocarbons. It is clear that we need to diversify our range of sources for energy, ideally taking full advantage of solar, wind and other renewable resources. Despite the transformation that is currently underway, there will be, for the foreseeable future, the need for hydrocarbon for some applications. We are developing a versatile multi-step flow-through catalytic process designed to convert input derived from waste biomass (e.g. corn stalks) to hydrocarbons in a way that can be readily adjusted for the biomass feedstock. Work in this area is focused on heterogeneous catalysis based on metal nanoparticles immobilized on microand nano-porous structures. 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.

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.

Selected Publications

Using Diffusion to Characterize Interfacial Heterogeneity, Krystyna Kijewska and G. J. Blanchard, Langmuir 2017, 33, 1155-1161.

Interplay between endothelial cell cytoskeletal rigidity and plasma membrane fluidity, G. J. Blanchard and J. V. Busik, Biophysical Journal, (New and Notable) 2017, 112, 831-833.

Charge-Induced Long Range Order in a Room Temperature Ionic Liquid, Ke Ma, Romana Jarosova, Greg M. Swain and G. J. Blanchard, Langmuir 2016, 32, 9507-9512.

Synthesis of a MnOx Water Oxidation Catalyst on FTO by a Novel Dual-Series Cyclic Voltammetry Protocol, Hao Yuan, Richard R. Lunt, G. J. Blanchard and Robert Y. Ofoli, ChemElectroChem 2016, 3, 709-712.

Using Diffusional Motion to Gauge Fluidity and Interfacial Adhesion of Supported Alkylphosphonate Monolayers, Stephen M. Baumler, Thomas Reidy and G. J. Blanchard, Journal of Colloid and Interface Science 2016, 1, 145-155.

Role of Acid Sphingomyelinase in Shifting the Balance Between Proinflammatory and Reparative Bone Marrow Cells in Diabetic Retinopathy, Harshini Chakravarthy, Svetlana Navitskaya, Sandra O’Reilly, Jacob Gallimore, Hannah Mize, Qi Wang, Nermin Kady, Chao Huang, G. J. Blanchard, Maria B. Grant and Julia V. Busik, Stem Cells 2016, 34, 972-983.

Competition-Based Phenotyping Reveals a Fitness Cost for Maintaining Phycobilisomes Under Fluctuating Light in the Cyanobacterium Fermyella Diplosiphon, Marco Agnosti, Ben Lucker, Matthew Smith, Atsuko Kanazawa, G. J. Blanchard, David Kramer and Beronda Montgomery, Algal Research – Biomass Biofuels and Bioproducts 2016, 15, 110-119.

Getting Kasha’s Rule Violation under Control, Muath Nairat, Arkaprabha Konar, Warren F. Beck, G. J. Blanchard, Vadim V. Lozovoy and Marcos Dantus, Journal of Physical Chemistry A 2016, 120, 1876-1885.


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)