Continetti, Robert
Dissociation dynamics of transient species, three-body reaction dynamics, novel mass-spectrometric methods

Contact Information
Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Office: Urey Hall Addn 3020E
Phone: 858-534-5559
Group: View group members
1989 Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
1983 B.A., Johns Hopkins University
2013 Professore Visitatore, University of Rome La Sapienza
2012 Wilsmore Fellow, University of Melbourne
2006-2012 Department Chair, UCSD
2006-2011 Kurt Shuler Scholar, UCSD
1999 Professor, UCSD
1997 Assoc. Professor, UCSD
1992 Asst. Professor, UCSD
1989 Postdoc, University of California, Berkeley
Awards and Academic Honors
UCSD Diversity Champion Award
ACS Division of Physical Chemistry Award in Experimental Chemistry
Fellow, American Physical Society
Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship
Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award
David and Lucile Packard Fellowship in Sciences and Engineering
Camille and Henry Dreyfus New Faculty Award
Research Interests
Transient species, including reactive free radicals and molecular clusters, play central roles in governing the chemical behavior of complex systems. We seek to characterize these species by using a variety of techniques, including mass spectrometry, photoelectron and photofragment spectroscopies and the measurement of scattering cross-sections. These experiments provide critical tests of modern electronic structure and dynamics calculations, and in the case of three-body dissociation, new types of experimental data on the dynamics of these processes.

Our studies of reactive free-radicals, transition-states and multi-body dissociation dynamics use the photoelectron-photofragment coincidence technique developed here. These experiments are carried out using fast, mass-selected anion beams with short-pulse tunable laser photodetachment. The photoelectron kinetic energy and angle of recoil is measured using imaging techniques, which determines the internal energy in the neutral molecule or cluster under study. If the neutral is unstable and dissociates, then the kinetic energy and angular distributions of the products are recorded using time- and position-sensitive detectors. Analysis of these experiments is carried out in conjunction with ab initio electronic structure, Franck-Condon and dynamics calculations.One application of these techniques is to the dynamics of hydroxyl radical reactions important in combustion and atmospheric processes. Another important research focus has been reactive organic intermediates such as alkoxides and alkoxy radicals.

Our newest apparatus is under construction - the aerosol impact machine. This apparatus will allow us to trap and age charged nanoparticles, measure the mass and charge of individual particles, and then accelerate the single particles for hypervelocity impact on a diamond surface. The controllable vaporization that will ensue will allow determination of the depth profile of compounds in aerosols and other nanoparticles.
Primary Research Area
Physical/Analytical Chemistry
Interdisciplinary interests
Atmospheric and Environmental

Outreach Activities
Appointed Chair of the Chancellor’s Diversity Council, coordinating communication of the broader campus community with Assoc. Chancellor and Chief Diversity Officer and the Chancellor.

Hosted visit by high school students from San Marcos High School to my lab.

As Department Chair, established Departmental Diversity and Outreach Committee.

Appointed to the new Campus Council on Equity and Inclusion.

PI, Graduate Assistantships in Areas of National Need (GAANN) grant, supporting 14 Ph.D. students across the Department.
Image Gallery

Experiment and Theory for the Benchmark Reaction F + H2O -> HF + OH
Selected Publications