Age: 36 at time of award
Published October 1, 2001
Brooks Pate is a physical chemist surmounting formidable technical and conceptual hurdles to reveal new insights into the chemical reactions of excited molecules. At low energies, chemical reactions can often be understood by focusing on the interactions of extremely fast electrons around relatively stationary atomic nuclei. The essence of a chemical reaction, however, is the stable spatial rearrangement of nuclei. Pate examines higher energy states where the motion of nuclei plays an important, if not determinative, role in the overall stability and shape of the resulting molecule(s). Much of his work has focused on a special class of reactions in which a single molecule changes the configuration, but not the number, of its constituent atoms. By perfecting spectroscopic techniques such as microwave-infrared double resonance, Pate has teased out the impact of vibrational and rotational nuclear motion on overall chemical reactivity. His research brings us closer to realizing the long-anticipated promise of laser technology for the unprecedented control of chemical reactions.
Brooks Pate received a B.S. (1987) from the University of Virginia and a Ph.D. (1992) from Princeton University. He is the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Virginia, where he has taught since 1993.
Last updated January 1, 2005.