One area of research is the chemistry and physics of surfaces and interfaces. Research is being focused on the synthesis and the physical and chemical characterization of ultrathin organic films such as carbon nanotubes for photovoltaics. As well, they are testing the use of organic films as biocompatible coatings for medical implants, in corrosion inhibition, and in high-resolution nanolithography.
Theoretical work includes fields such as nanomaterials, biophysical chemistry, atmospheric and environmental chemistry, quantum spectroscopy, and condensed phase molecular dynamics. Current research topics include chemical reaction dynamics in the gas phase, in solution, in the solid-state, and at interfaces. As well, scientists are studying the physical properties and material applications of soft condensed phases such as liquids, glasses, polymers, and liquid crystals.
Solid-state chemistry of semiconductor nanoparticles, ferroelectrics, metal surfaces, and research into novel energy sources and storage is also being studied. This research usually involves collaborations with those in physics, biology, materials science, and electrical engineering.
The development and use of new spectroscopic techniques is another area of research. Single-molecule spectroscopy, nonlinear terahertz spectroscopy, and femtosecond x-ray scattering are among the new techniques being developed and used in condensed phase research.
Many researchers are also involved in the synthesis and investigation of new materials such as anticancer drugs and synthetic fuels. There is also a constant development in polymers such as polyethylene, polypropylene, nylons, polyesters, and polycarbonates. See the article on materials engineering for more information.