The Vanden Bout Group

Recent Group News: Dr. Vanden Bout became Dean of the College of Natural Sciences in 2021.


Research in the Vanden Bout group is focused on spectroscopically probing condensed phase systems that are inherently heterogeneous in nature. While a vast array of such systems is of great scientific interest they have historically been ignored in favor of more controlled homogenous systems such as single crystals or isotropic liquids. The difficulty in studying these non-ideal heterogeneous materials is that they contain a wide variety of environments. Bulk spectroscopic methods average together multitudes of these different environments, thereby masking the source of particular features and complicating the interpretation of experimental results. To avoid these problems our approach is to directly probe the material microscopically. Two recent experimental developments have made these experimental possible: near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM) and single molecule spectroscopy (SMS). Both techniques remove the effects of heterogeneity in the system by probing a very small spatial region, thereby isolating a particular environment.

Probing one molecule at a time.