Nancy Levinger

Nancy LevingerProfessor and University Distinguished Teaching Scholar
Office: Chemistry C205
Phone: 970-491-1331
Education: Ph.D., University of Colorado

Our research focuses on the influence of condensed-phase environments on structure and dynamics of molecules. We are particularly interested in learning how the heterogeneous environment at liquid interfaces influences molecules residing and chemistry occurring there, thus uncovering details of interfacial chemistry. To explore these fascinating systems, we use a variety of different techniques. We have utilized ultrafast time-resolved laser spectroscopies to explore molecules and chemistry in inhomogeneous environments.  One particular model system that we have explored in detail is the reverse micelles.  Reverse micelles form in ternary or higher order mixtures of polar, nonpolar and amphiphilic molecules.  Most often, the polar solvent used is water but we have also explored a range of nonaqueous polar solvents for these systems including ordinary organic solvents such as ethylene glycol, DMSO, etc. as well as novel room temperature ionic liquids.  We have utilized the workhorse surfactant, AOT, for many of our studies as well as cationic and nonionic systems.  We are interested in developing new reverse micelle systems for application to complex problems. Our laser spectroscopy methods span a range from polar solvation dynamics following the time dependent fluorescent Stokes shift of a dye to time-resolved absorption both in the visible and in the IR.  We have collaborated extensively with the Fayer group at Stanford University as well as the Elsaesser group at the Max Born Institute in Berlin, Germany.  The time-resolved IR studies with Fayer and Elsaesser have revealed fundamental details about the nature of water and surfactants in the self assembled reverse micelles. Together with Debbie Crans at CSU, we have used a range of NMR spectroscopic techniques employing multinuclear and multidimensional methods to understand fundamental properties in reverse micelles. For example, we have mapped out pH characteristics for the reverse micelle interior for a range of samples using vanadium-51 NMR of polyoxovanadates.  We have also used 2D NMR studies to determine the location of a probe molecule in reverse micelles.   We are currently working to develop new spectroscopies with Randy Bartels and we are developing facilities to apply surface sum frequency vibrational spectroscopy to self assembled systems in collaboration with Ellen Fisher.

Selected Publications

Rene Costard, Nancy E. Levinger, Erik T. J. Nibbering, and Thomas Elsaesser, "Ultrafast Vibrational Dynamics of Water Confined in Phospholipid Reverse Micelles", J. Phys. Chem. B, 116, 5752–5759 (2012) DOI: 10.1021/jp3039016. 

N. M. Correa, J. J. Silber, R. E. Riter and N. E. Levinger, “Nonaqueous Reverse Micelles”, Chem. Rev., 2012 ASAP, DOI: 10.1021/cr200254q

Debbie C. Crans and Nancy E. Levinger, "The conundrum of pH in water nanodroplets: sensing pH in reverse micelle water pools", Acc. Chem. Res., 2012, ASAP (DOI: 10.1021/ar200269g).

Myles Sedgwick, Richard L. Cole, Christopher D. Rithner, Debbie C. Crans, and Nancy E. Levinger, "Correlating proton transfer dynamics to probe location in confined environments", J. Am. Chem. Soc., 134, 11904–11907 (2012). 

Nancy E. Levinger Lauren C. Rubenstrunk, Bharat Baruah, Debbie C. Crans,  J. Am. Chem. Soc., 133, 7205–7214, (2011).  Highlighted in Science, 332, (6031), 13 May 2011.

Jeffrey T. McPhee, Eric Scott, Nancy E. Levinger and Alan Van Orden, J. Phys. Chem. B., 115, 9585-9592 (2011) DOI: 10.1021/jp2001282.

Jeffrey T. McPhee, Eric Scott, Nancy E. Levinger and Alan Van Orden,  J. Phys. Chem. B., 115, 9576-9584 (2011) DOI: 10.1021/jp200126f.

Nancy E. Levinger, Rene Costard, Erik T. J. Nibbering and Thomas Elsaesser,  J. Phys. Chem. A, 115, 11952–11959 (2011).