Nathan Harper

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Emory University

Office: 131 Atwood Hall

1515 Dickey Drive

Atlanta, GA 30322-2210

phone: 404-727-6573

fax: 404-727-6586

Educational Background

Undergratuate student in at Emory University : Expected to graduate with BS in Chemistry by 2020

Current Research

My current research focuses on astrochemically significant ions. These species are thought to drive gas-phase chemical reactions in the interstellar medium (ISM) because their charges increase collision frequencies which significantly improves reaction rates. In the ISM, molecules are ionized through collisions with cosmic rays, then react with other species to form new molecules. I am studying protonated formaldehyde because it is thought to be a precursor to biologically relevant molecules, such as the sugar diose.

The goal of my research is to produce protonated formaldehyde in the laboratory and then obtain its spectrum in the millimeter-submillimeter wavelength range. Dr. Luyao Zou and Kevin Roenitz have developed a discharge source coupled to a pulsed-valve which creates an ionized expansion in a vacuum chamber. By pulsing gaseous formaldehyde through this equipment, they have created protonated formaldehyde. My role in the project is to help develop a cavity-based set up to probe the expansion with mm-sub mm radiation. The virtue of the cavity is that the radiation can pass through the sample over one hundred times, which greatly improves sensitivity. After this design is completed, protonated formaldehyde’s spectrum can be obtained.