Inside Linfield - Chemistry

Professor Brian Gilbert - Research Interests

Brian Gilbert's Curriculum Vita

I earned by B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Arizona in 1985, and my Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Indiana University in 1994.  At Indiana I used lasers to probe the flow of vibrational energy in the excited states of molecules.  I was a postdoctoral research associate at the Massachusets Institute of Technology from 1994 - 1996, where I helped work on a project funded by the Federal Aviation Authority to use molecular spectroscopy to detect high explosives.  From 1996 - 2001 I was an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina.  I joined the Department of Chemistry at Linfield in 2001. 

My research interests are in the production and characterization of nanoparticles, matter in the 10 – 200 nm size range (where a nanometer is roughly 1000x smaller than the width of a human hair). In this size regime the physical and chemical properties of matter this size depend strongly on their size and shape. Currently there is wide interest in better understanding how to make nanoparticles for a variety of applications, including human health (drug delivery, cancer cell tagging), optics (OLED displays and solar cells), and data storage.

Students working with me participate in a variety of nanoparticle-based projects, gaining experience in nanotechnology - a rapidly growing field. Simple wet chemical syntheses are used to produce nanoparticles, such as the reduction of Au and Ag containing metal salts to form Au and Ag (and alloyed) nanoparticles, or more recently, formation of silica (SiO2) nanospheres via the Stöber process. These nanoparticles are used as-is in solution, or are subsequently used in a bottom-up approach to make ordered colloidal crystals. In all cases, the nanoparticles are characterized with a variety of instrumental techniques including Raman and surface-enhanced Raman scattering, UV-vis spectroscopy, laser scattering for particle sizing and scanning electron microscopy.

One of the major goals of our research has been to not just make and characterize nanoparticles, but to show how they might be useful. This has resulted in several collaborations with Drs. Atkinson and Bestwick in the Chemistry Department. Students from a variety of majors (including music, pre-nursing, exercise science, biology and chemistry) have worked on projects with me, many of them during or right after, their freshman year. Following a summer of research, all of our students are encouraged to present their findings at a series of research conferences – the Murdock Research Conference, the Oregon Academy of Sciences meeting and the spring national meeting of the American Chemical Society. If you are interested in learning more about the projects I'm working on, or about research in general in the Chemistry department, please feel free to contact me (, 503.883.2469).