Loeb Lecture: "Topological and Geometric Symmetries of Molecular Structures"

Professor Erica Flapan, Pomona College

Abstract: How does a chemist know that a molecule that he or she has synthesized has the desired form? Most non-biological molecules are too small to see in a microscope or even with the help of an electron micrograph. So chemists need to collect experimental data as evidence that a synthetic molecule has a particular form. One approach to this is to try to match the experimental data about the symmetries of the molecule to the symmetries of a physical model of the desired form. But molecules which are not completely rigid may have symmetries that are absent from the model. In such a case, topology, which is the study of deformations of objects in space, can help interpret the data. In this talk we will explore topological and geometric approaches to studying the symmetries of complex molecular structures.

Tea @ 3:45 in Cupples I, room 200

Host: Ron Freiwald