The Blake Group Adds Four New Members

Mar 8th, 2017


We are happy to announce four new members of the Blake group, one postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Tony Karam, and three new graduate students, Cam Buzard, Alex Froebel, and Olivia Wilkins.



Congratulations to the Blake Group's most recent graduate: Dr. Ian Finneran

Mar 1st, 2017

We are pleased to announce the group's most recent graduate: Dr. Ian Finneran. Ian successfully defended his thesis "Terahertz and Microwave Spectroscopy of Liquids and Hydrogen-Bonded Clusters".





Group Alumni Awarded Postdoctoral Fellowships.

Feb 24th, 2017

We are also happy to report that three group alumni have been awarded prestigious postdoctoral fellowships. Dr. Ke (Coco) Zhang and Dr. Brett McGuire have both accepted Hubble Fellowships at the University of Michigan and University of Virginia, respectively. Dr. Marco Allodi has accepted a Beckman Fellowship at the University of Chicago.



Group Members Awarded Postdoctoral Fellowships.

Feb 24th, 2017

We are happy to report that two senior group members have been awarded prestigious postdoctoral fellowships. Ian Finneran has been awarded a NRC Fellowship to work at the University of Colorado Boulder in the group of Dr. Jun Ye. Brandon Carroll has been awarded a Simons Foundation Fellowship to work in the McCarthy group at the Harvard CfA.



The Blake Group's research is featured in Science.

June 14th, 2016

The Blake group has published the first detection of a chiral molecule outside our solar system. Chiral molecules are key to life on Earth, however the origins of life's reliance on chiral molecules is unclear. The discovery, published in Science, is an important first step in understanding the possible the cosmic origins of chiral molecules. The work is also featured in Physics Today, C&EN, and Scientific American.




The Blake Group publishes a new paper on 2D THz Spectroscopy in PNAS.

June 6th, 2016

The Blake group, in collaboration with the Miller group at Caltech, have recently published their work on 2D THz-THz-Raman (2D TTR) spectroscopy in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The THz motions of liquids are especially important to chemistry, as they regulate solvation, macromolecular structure, and vibrational energy flow. 2D TTR is the first technique to interrogate a liquid with multiple pulses of THz light, allowing for the direct measurement of anharmonic coupling and primitive coherent control over THz modes. In this initial work, the technique is demonstrated on the orientational and low energy vibrations in several halomethane compounds.



The Blake group welcomes its two newest group members Griffin Mead and Kewei Xu.

January 4th, 2016

Griffin and Kewei, both 1st year graduate students in chemistry have officially joined the group.



Congratulations to Dr. Jacob Good.

March 18, 2016

Congratulations to the Blake Group's newest PhD. Jacob successfully defended his thesis "Design and Applications of a Terahertz Frequency Comb Spectrometer: Rotational Spectroscopy of Methanol" Friday March 18th.











Commencement 2015: Congratulations to the Blake group's three newest graduates Dr. Marco Allodi, Dr. Coco Zhang, and Dr. Brett McGuire.

June 12, 2015

Dr. Marco Allodi will join the Engel group at the University of Chicago as the Yen Postdoctoral Fellow.

Dr. Coco Zhang will join the Bergin group at the University of Michigan as a postdoctoral fellow.

Dr. Brett McGuire will join the NRAO at Charlottesville as a Jansky postdoctoral fellow.














Brett McGuire and fellow Blake Group members' research makes the cover of the Journal of Chemical Education.

June 9, 2015

The pyrotechnic thermite reaction showcases the influence of kinetic versus thermodynamic control over reaction dynamics in a visually spectacular way. A mixture of iron oxide and aluminum powder, unreactive under ambient conditions, requires a large input of energy to spark a reaction. Once this barrier to activation is overcome, the mixture rapidly (and impressively) produces the more thermodynamically favored molten iron and aluminum oxide products (as seen on the cover). This reaction, and the various methods available for igniting it, often serves as an exciting capstone demonstration for students near the end of introductory instruction in reaction processes and dynamics, as discussed in “Ignition of Thermite Using the Potassium Chlorate 'Rocket' Reaction: A Systematic Demonstration of Reaction Chemistry” (DOI: 10.1021/ed500522c) by Brett A. McGuire, P. Brandon Carroll, Adam N. Boynton, Jeffrey M. Mendez, and Geoffrey A. Blake..












Ian Finneran and fellow Blake Group members publish THz frequency comb of unprecedented bandwidth and precision in PRL.

April 29, 2015

The Blake group has recently demonstrated a high precision, broadband, terahertz frequency comb. The details of the work are presented in the latest issue of Physical Review Letters (PDF copy available here), and in Physics. A Caltech press release of the results can be found here.

Terahertz waves cover the wide swath of the electromagnetic spectrum that lies between the radio frequencies used in cell phones and the infrared waves given off by warm objects such as a human body. In this paper,we build upon recent work to generate and detect terahertz waves with an unprecedented combination of spectral coverage and precision. The chemical specificity and information content of this region is extraordinary, with applications ranging from the characterization of the complex forces between molecules to astrochemistry, the study of molecules in space. Unfortunately, generating and detecting a terahertz wave in the laboratory is a difficult endeavor, as many technologies used in neighboring spectral windows are not applicable. We have overcome these difficulties with a frequency comb, which is a precise “ruler” of terahertz waves.



Researchers led by Blake Group member Alex Lockwood have published the detection of water vapor in the atmosphere of a hot jupiter.

February 24, 2014

The Blake Group has published "Near-IR direct detection of water vapor in Tau Bootis b" by Alex Lockwood et al. in the Astrophysical Journal Letters (Full Paper). For a full summary of the findings, please see the Caltech Press Release.



Blake Group publishes lower-cost, DDS-based chirped pulse microwave spectrometer in Review of Scientific Instruments

August 15th, 2013

The Blake Group has published "A direct digital synthesis chirped pulse Fourier transform microwave spectrometer" by Ian A. Finneran, Daniel B. Holland, P. Brandon Carroll, and Geoffrey A. Blake in Review of Scientific Instruments, 2013, 84, 083104 (Full Paper).

The newly constructed CP-FTMW spectrometer in the Blake lab uses a direct digital synthesis board, rather than an arbitrary waveform generator, for chirped pulse generation. This reduces the cost, size, weight, and power requirements of the chirp generation segment of the spectrometer all by more than an order of magnitude, while matching the performance of traditional designs. We will post further details and pictures of the spectrometer on the website in the near future.



Work by Geoff Blake and colleagues sheds new light on the CO snow line in a solar nebula analog

July 18th, 2013

Geoff Blake and colleagues have published "Imaging of the CO Snow Line in a Solar Nebula Analog" by Chunhua Qi et al. in Science, 2013, 341, 630 (Full Paper).

Planets form in the disks around young stars. Their formation efficiency and composition are intimately linked to the protoplanetary disk locations of condensation fronts or “snow lines” of abundant volatiles. In this paper a means of chemically highlighting and selectively imaging of the CO snow line in the disk around TW Hya, an analog of the early Solar Nebula, is presented. Specifically, the images were acquired using high spatial and spectral resolution Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) observations of N2H+, a reactive ion present in large abundance only where CO is frozen out. The N2H+ emission is found to be distributed in a large ring, with an inner radius near 30 AU (about the orbit of Neptune) that matches CO snow line model predictions. This first direct image of a disk snow line demonstrates the potential of chemical contrast to constrain modes of dust growth and planet formation both in present-day disks and the Solar Nebula. Much more can be expected as ALMA ramps up to full operation, especially of less volatile species such as water and organics that are key to the potential habitability of (exo)planetary systems.

A Caltech press release with further information is available here.



Blake Group presents at 68th International Symposium on Molecular Spectroscopy - Brett McGuire wins 2013 Rao Prize

July 10th, 2013

The Blake Group recently presented nine talks at the 68th International Symposium on Molecular Spectroscopy. Brett McGuire was selected as a 2013 Rao Prize winner for his talk on the first interstellar detection of carbodiimide (HNCNH). More information on the talks, including slides, can be found at the following links:

  • Marco Allodi -- TE05, TI09, TJ15

  • P. Brandon Carroll -- WH04, WH16, RF07, FA01

  • Ian Finneran -- WH16, TH06

  • Sergio Ioppolo -- TE05, TI09, TJ15

  • Brett McGuire -- TE05, TI09, TJ15, WF09, WH04, RF07, FA01

  • Dr. Matthew J. Kelley graduates from the Blake Group

    March 18th, 2013

    Matthew is now working as a Senior Scientist with the Technology and Applications Center at Newport Corporation.



    Marco Allodi invited to speak at the Milliken Graduate Research Symposium in Spartanburg, SC

    March 8th, 2013


    Sergio Ioppolo, Marco Allodi, and Brett McGuire present at First Workshop on Experimental Laboratory Astrophysics

    February 26th, 2013