Carson Powers

Graduate Student

Emory University

Office: 131 Atwood Hall

1515 Dickey Drive

Atlanta, GA 30322-2210

phone: 404-727-6573

fax: 404-727-6586

Educational Background

Graduate Student in Chemistry at Emory University (Current)
B.S. in Chemistry, Minor in Applied Science from The College of William and Mary (2015)

Current Research

I am currently working on a project which focuses on the photolysis of methanol using a UV laser at different wavelengths. When methanol undergoes UV photodissociation, it can do so via seven reaction channels. Of these channels, some of the main products include carbon monoxide, water, hydroxycarbene, and methyl radical; however, two of the most important radicals created are methoxy (CH3O) and hydroxymethyl (CH2OH). Based on a paper by Hagege et al. (1968), the branching ratios of methanol photolysis are such that 75% of the methanol goes to the production of methoxy and hydroxymethyl. However, the study was done using mass spectroscopy for measurements, and these molecules look the same using this type of spectroscopic technique. Our lab uses rotational spectroscopic techniques, which offer not only high resolution spectra, but also allow for identification of molecules via ‚Äúspectroscopic signatures‚ÄĚ, meaning each molecule has a set of unique peaks which represent transitions between its rotational states.

Using these techniques, we can identify the varying amounts of either radical we are producing, and ratio it to the amount of parent molecule (methanol) to get true branching ratios for both radicals, as well as any other products we can see. Doing this would allow us to better understand ratios of production for larger complex organic molecules, such as glycolaldehyde or methyl formate.


  • “ Millimeter/Submillimeter Spectroscopy to Measure the Branching Ratios for Methanol Photolysis.” Powers C. R., McCabe M. N., and Widicus Weaver S. L. 71st International Symposium on Molecular Spectroscopy, Urbana-Champaign, IL, June 23, 2016