Mathew Leonard, Ph.D.


Education: Bachelor of Science in physics (May 2006)

Doctor of Philosophy in physics from the University of California, Berkeley

McNair Project: Bond Rearrangement in the Dissociation of Water Molecules by Slow, Highly Charged Ions (2005)

Mentors: Kevin Carnes, Ph.D., and Itzik Ben-Itzhak, Ph.D.

An experimental apparatus is being constructed and tested in the J.R. Macdonald Laboratory (JRML). The new apparatus will utilize the latest techniques in molecular imaging, such as the use of a multi-hit position sensitive detector. As a test experiment, we will look at the dissociation of water molecules by highly charged ions. Previous experiments on the dissociation of water molecules by high energy ions have been performed. Bond rearrangement, namely H2O+ → H2 + + O, and its isotopic dependence, with HDO and D2O replacing H2O, has been studied in the past using a fast proton beam. Studies have also been done on bond rearrangement resulting from multiple ionization of water molecules, such as the dissociation channel H2O2+ → H2 + + O+. The new experiment will allow us to follow up this line of research, but with a different mechanism for removing electrons from the molecule, electron capture instead of ionization.