Fundamental research on properties of molecular and solid-state systems often requires an understanding of chemistry, physics, and mathematics that can best be obtained by training in more than one department. This type of research includes aspects of biophysical chemistry (the dynamics of protein folding, electronic structure and coupling in proteins, the theory of complex biological reaction networks), research in condensed matter (electronic properties of conjugated polymers, shock dynamics in solids, collective properties in disordered materials), and fundamental research into the properties of many-body systems (single molecule dynamics, cluster chemistry, quantum control of molecular relaxation). Examples of research in all these areas may be found on the web pages of faculty members with research interests in Chemical Physics and also on the Department of Physics website.
The University of Illinois offers outstanding research opportunities in theoretical chemistry. With a long history of excellence, the theory group is internationally recognized for its efforts to advance the frontiers of this field. Research integrates traditional areas, such as electronic structure, chemical dynamics and statistical mechanics, with interdisciplinary activities at the interface of chemistry with biology, physics, and materials science. Students enjoy their interactions with group members from other departments and benefit from activities sponsored by the Center for Theoretical Chemistry.
The Department of Chemistry offers an option in Computational Science and Engineering (CSE) under its PhD degree program.
Astrochemistry is an emerging interdisciplinary field at the intersection between chemistry and astronomy. As a few examples, topics of active research in this area include identifying organic molecules in interstellar space, building models of the chemical reactions that occur in interstellar space, laboratory measurements of astronomically important molecules, searching for Earthlike planets using molecular signatures, and understanding the contributions of interstellar molecules to the chemical origin of life.