Education, Honors, Awards

  • Assistant Professor, James Madison University, USA (2015-present).
  • Visiting Research Fellow, University of Adelaide, Australia (2015-present).
  • Ramsay Research Fellow, University of Adelaide, Australia (2013-2015).
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Georgia, USA (2011-2013).
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Alberta, Canada (2007-2011).
  • Ph.D., Chemistry, University of Wyoming, USA (2007).
  • B.S., Chemistry, Griffith University, Australia (1999).

Research Interests

  • Laser spectroscopy of unusual molecules and clusters in superfluid helium nanodroplets

Research Description

Our research is focused on advancing our understanding of the forces that control the chemistry that occurs in different environments, such as the atmosphere. We use home-made machines to generate weakly bound molecular complexes that are then characterized by infrared laser spectroscopy. These experimental studies, when combined with sophisticated quantum chemical calculations, can provide great insight into how chemical species interact.

We are constructing a helium nanodroplet isolation spectrometer that will be used to study reactive complexes at near-zero Kelvin. Superfluid helium nanodroplets perhaps provide the ultimate medium for the study of chemical dynamics at the molecular level. Their low temperature, enormous heat conductivity, and weakly interacting nature allow for the trapping of species that are often inaccessible by conventional synthetic means. The following animation shows an example of the kinds of reactions we are interested in investigating (in this case, ClH+OH→Cl+H2O).

Selected Recent Publications

  • P. L. Raston and W. Jäger, “Microwave Spectroscopy of the Seeded Binary and Ternary Clusters CO-(pH2)2, CO-pH2-He, CO-HD, and CO-(oD2)N=1,2”, Journal of Chemical Physics, 142, 144308; 1-4 (2015).
  • G. E. Douberly, P. L. Raston, T. Liang, and M. D. Marshall, “Infrared Rovibrational Spectroscopy of OH-C2H2 in 4He Nanodroplets: Parity Splitting due to Partially Quenched Electronic Angular Momentum”, Journal of Chemical Physics, 142, 134306; 1-9 (2015).
  • P. L. Raston, S. C. Kettwich and D. T. Anderson, “Kinetic studies of the infrared-induced reaction between atomic chlorine and solid parahydrogen”, Journal of Molecular Spectroscopy, 310, 72-83 (2015). (Part of a Special Issue in honor of Marilyn E. Jacox)
  • H. Bunn, T. Bennett, A. Karayilan, and P. L. Raston, “Far-Infrared Spectroscopy of the H2-O2 van der Waals Complex”, Astrophysical Journal, 799, 65; 1-4 (2015).
  • P. L. Raston, G. E. Douberly and W. Jäger, “Single and double resonance spectroscopy of methanol embedded in superfluid helium nanodroplets”, Journal of Chemical Physics, 141, 044301; 1-13 (2014).
  • T. Liang, D. B. Magers, P. L. Raston, W. D. Allen and G. E. Douberly, “Dipole Moment of the HOOO Radical: Resolution of a Structural Enigma”, Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, 4, 3584-3589 (2013).
  • P. L. Raston, J. Agarwal, J. M. Turney, H. F. Schaefer III and G. E. Douberly, “The ethyl radical in superfluid helium nanodroplets: rovibrational spectroscopy and ab initio computations”, Journal of Chemical Physics, 138, 194303; 1-13 (2013).
  • P. L. Raston, T. Liang and G. E. Douberly, “Infrared spectroscopy and tunneling dynamics of the vinyl radical in 4He nanodroplets”, Journal of Chemical Physics, 138, 174302; 1-9 (2013).
  • P. L. Raston, T. Liang and G. E. Douberly, “Anomalous L-doubling in the infrared spectrum of the hydroxyl radical in helium nanodroplets”, Journal of Physical Chemistry A, 117, 8103-8110 (2013). (Part of a Special Issue on Stereodynamics)
  • P. L. Raston, W. Jäger, H. Li, R. J. Le Roy and P.-N. Roy, “Persistent molecular superfluid response in doped para-hydrogen clusters”, Physical Review Letters, 108, 253402; 1-5 (2012).

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