Chemistry and Biochemistry

James E. Patterson

James Patterson

Office: C303 BNSN
Office Phone: 801-422-1481
Lab Room: C355 BNSN
Lab Phone: 801-422-1518
Office Hours


BS, Brigham Young University (1996)

MS, Brigham Young University (1998)

PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2004)

Postdoctoral Research, Institute for Shock Physics, Washington State University (2004-2007)


The Patterson Research Lab

Many phenomena occur primarily or exclusively at interfaces. These include adhesion, friction, lubrication, chromatographic separations, catalysis and many biological processes. The goal of our research is to establish links between molecular structure and function in interfacial systems. To accomplish this, we use a non-linear spectroscopy technique known as vibrationally resonant sum-frequency generation (VR-SFG). This technique allows us to probe molecules at interfaces without interfering signal from molecules in the bulk. It also allows us to determine the orientation of molecules at these interfaces. We are currently studying two types of systems: solid-solid interfaces relevant to adhesion and solid-liquid interfaces relevant to chromatography.

The goal of our first project is to better understand the molecular basis of adhesion or, in less technical terms, what makes things stick. We are using VR-SFG to determine the molecular structure of polymer surfaces and the interface between two polymeric materials. We will also correlate the results of the spectroscopy measurements with mechanical strength tests. This will allow us to better identify the molecular structures that give strong adhesive bonds. Our findings will pave the way for the development of new adhesives designed from molecular considerations. This work is currently being funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

In our second project, we are looking at the molecular basis for chromatographic separations. High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) is used in many analytical and biomedical fields to separate chemical species, but a molecular level understanding of the fundamental processes is lacking. We are currently studying model HPLC stationary phases under high pressure. Our results show that the structure of the interface changes both with pressure and how the samples are stored. We will soon be changing the composition of the liquid phase to learn more about how those conditions influence retention in HPLC. Our results will lead to improved predictions of optimal separation programs which will in turn improve the efficiency of HPLC analysis.

Students in our research group use a state-of-the-art, ultra-fast laser system to perform the non-linear spectroscopy measurements. They also prepare and characterize our samples, using such techniques as polymer spin coating, ellipsometry (in the lab of Prof. Linford), and silane chemistry. Most importantly, we study interesting systems that impact many fields of science and engineering.

Additional research areas: Spectroscopy and Materials and Surfaces


A.D. Curtis, A.R. Calchera, M.C. Asplund, J.E. Patterson; Observation of Sub-Surface Phenyl Rings in Polystyrene with Vibrationally Resonant Sum-Frequency Generation. Vibrational Spectroscopy, 68, 2013, 71-81.

A.R. Calchera, A.D. Curtis, J.E. Patterson; Plasma Treatment of Polystyrene Thin Films Affects More than the Surface. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces4, 2012, 3493-3499.

E.R. Mansfield, D.S. Mansfield, J.E. Patterson, T.A. Knotts, IV; Effects of Chain Grafting Positions and Surface Coverage on Conformations of Model RPLC Stationary Phases. Journal of Physical Chemistry C116, 2012, 8456-8464.

A.D. Quast, N.C. Wilde, S.S. Matthews, S.T. Maughan, S.L. Castle, J.E. Patterson; Improved Assignment of Vibrational Modes in the C-H Stretch Region for Surface Bound C18 Silanes. Vibrational Spectroscopy, 61, 2012, 17-24.

A.D. Quast, A.D. Curtis, B.A. Horn, S.R. Goates, J.E. Patterson; Role of Nonresonant Sum-Frequency Generation in the Investigation of Model Liquid Chromatography Systems. Analytical Chemistry84, 2012, 1862-1870.

A.D. Curtis, M.C. Asplund, J.E. Patterson; Use of Variable Time-Delay Sum-Frequency Generation for Improved Spectroscopic Analysis. Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 115, 2011, 19303-19310.

A.D. Curtis, S.R. Burt, A.R. Calchera, J.E. Patterson; Limitations in the Analysis of Vibrational Sum-Frequency Spectra Arising from the Nonresonant Contribution. Journal of Physical Chemistry C115, 2011, 11550-11559.

A.D. Quast, F. Zhang, M.R. Linford, J.E. Patterson; Back-Surface Gold Mirrors for Vibratioanally Resonant Sum-Frequency Generation (VR-SFG) Spectroscopy Using 3-Mercaptopropyltrimethoxysilane as an Adhesion Promoter. Applied Spectroscopy65, 2011, 634-641.

A.D. Curtis, S.B. Reynolds, A.R. Calchera, J.E. Patterson; Understanding the Role of Nonresonant Sum-Frequency Generation from Polystyrene Thin Films. Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters1, 2010, 2435-2439.

J.E. Patterson, Z.A. Dreger, M. Miao, Y.M. Gupta; Shock Wave Induced Decomposition of RDX: Time-Resolved Spectroscopy. Journal of Physical Chemistry A112, 2008, 7374-7382.

J.E. Patterson, Z.A. Dreger, Y.M. Gupta; Shock Wave Induced Phase Transition in RDX Single Crystals. Journal of Physical Chemistry B111(37), 2007, 10897-10904.  (Referenced in Nature Research Highlights, 449 (27 Sept 2007) 380-381.)

J.E. Patterson, D.D. Dlott; Ultrafast Shock Compression of Self-Assembled Monolayers: A Molecular Picture. Journal of Physical Chemistry B109, 2005, 5045-5054.

A.S. Lagutchev, J.E. Patterson, W. Huang, D.D. Dlott; Ultrafast Dynamics of Self-Assembled Monolayers under Shock Compression: Effects of Molecular and Substrate Structure. Journal of Physical Chemistry B109, 2005, 5033-5044.

J.E. Patterson, A. Lagutchev, W. Huang, D.D. Dlott; Ultrafast Dynamics of Shock Compression of Molecular Monolayers. Physical Review Letters94(1), 2005, 015501/1-015501/4. (Included in Virtual Journal of Ultrafast Science 4(2), 2005.)

Professional Activities:

Chair, Central Utah Section of the American Chemical Society, 2011