Wodtke, Alec M., Prof., Ph.D.

  • 1981 Bachelor of Arts, Major in Chemistry, University of Utah
  • 1986 Doctor of Philosophy in Physical Chemistry, University of California Berkeley
  • 1981-1986 Graduate Student Researcher, U.C. Berkeley
  • 1986-1988 Guest Scientist, Max Planck Institute for Fluid Dynamics, Göttingen, Germany
  • 1991 Guest Scientist, Dept. of Physics, University of Kaiserslautern, Germany
  • 1988-1993 Asst. Professor, Dept. of Chemistry UC Santa Barbara
  • 1993 Visiting Scientist, Catholic University of Nejmegen, the Netherlands
  • 1993-1996 Associate Professor with Tenure, Dept. of Chemistry, UC Santa Barbara
  • 1996-2010 Full Professor, Dept. of Chemistry, UC Santa Barbara
  • 2003-2009 Chairman, Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry, UC Santa Barbara
  • 2004-2007 Associate Director of the Institute for Quantum and Complex Dynamics
  • 2005 Director, Partnership for International Research and Education – Electro Chemistry and Catalysis at Interfaces
  • 2010 Professor Above-Scale, Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry, UC Santa Barbara
  • 2010 Professor, Institute for Physical Chemistry, Georg-August University Göttingen, Germany
  • 2010 Director and Scientific Member of the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science, Max Planck Institute for biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen, Germany
  • 2015 Professeur Titulaire, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale Lausanne, Lausanne Switzerland

Major Research Interests

An important aspect of future research is based on advancing understanding in problems related to electronically nonadiabatic energy transfer at surfaces. Electronically non-adiabatic effects refer to Born-Oppenheimer approximation (BOA) breakdown where energy can be converted back and forth between nuclear and electronic motion. While electronically nonadiabatic interactions have been observed in other physical contexts – for example gas-phase and liquid-phase energy transfer – for molecular interactions at surfaces; they appear to be of central importance. For example, observations of electron emission from low work function surfaces resulting from collisions of highly vibrationally excited molecules give direct evidence of the conversion of internal (vibrational) energy of a molecule. Such behavior is of significant interest to energy conversion research as it represents an entirely new field of inquiry into how elementary atomic scale energy conversion processes take place, where chemical and electrical energy are intrinsically interrelated. The theoretical basis for the first-principles understanding of this class of phenomenology is still in its infancy. Thus, new experiments motivate new theoretical developments and vice versa. Furthermore, as our understanding of such elementary energy conversion processes improves, we may predict behavior and attempt to exploit our new knowledge to create conditions for unexpected new kinds of energy conversion.

Homepage Department/Research Group



Selected Recent Publications

  • Kandratsenka A, Jiang H, Dorenkamp Y, Janke SM, Kammler M, Wodtke AM, Buenermann O (2018) Unified description of H-atom-induced chemicurrents and inelastic scattering. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 115:680-684

  • Neugebohren J, Borodin D, Hahn HW, Altschaeffel J, Kandratsenka A, Auerbach DJ, Campbell CT, Schwarzer D, Harding DJ, Wodtke AM, Kitsopoulos TN (2018) Velocity-resolved kinetics of site-specific carbon monoxide oxidation on platinum surfaces. Nature 558:280

  • Shirhatti PR, Rahinov I, Golibrzuch K, Werdecker J, Geweke J, Altschaeffel J, Kumar S, Auerbach DJ, Bartels C, Wodtke AM (2018) Observation of the adsorption and desorption of vibrationally excited molecules on a metal surface. Nature Chemistry 10:592-598

  • Chen L, Lau JA, Schwarzer D, Meyer J, Varma VB, Wodtke AM (2018) The Sommerfeld ground-wave limit for a molecule adsorbed at a surface. Science

  • Buenermann O, Jiang H, Dorenkamp Y, Kandratsenka A, Janke SM, Auerbach DJ, Wodtke AM (2015) Electron-hole pair excitation determines the mechanism of hydrogen atom adsorption. Science 350:1346-1349