The Physical Chemistry Division at UIC is internationally recognized for its research in many areas of spectroscopy and dynamics. Its well-funded research groups specialize in the fields of surface science, protein dynamics, nanoscience, and molecular reaction dynamics, among others. The division is known for strong collaborations in many related areas including material science, biophysics, laser science, and ophthalmology.

The Gordon group uses lasers to monitor and control chemical and physical processes. By exploiting the quantum nature of matter, they use coherent light sources to control chemical branching ratios and phase transitions of materials. Applications of their research include ultrafast material processing, glaucoma surgery, and material analysis using laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy.

The Keiderling group uses spectroscopic techniques to determine biomolecular structure. This group is recognized for developing new vibrational optical spectroscopic methods (based on IR, Raman and vibrational circular dichroism) as well as UV CD and fluorescence and applying them to the study of equilibrium and dynamic aspects of peptide and protein conformations. They have developed various computational methods for interpretation of the data and simulation of the spectra, including the incorporation of isotopic labeling for identifying site-specific interactions. Students interact across disciplines (physical, analytical, and biochemistry) in the group.

The Jiang group focuses on applying scanning probe-based nanotechnology in nanostuctures design and properties investigation. They are interested in fundamental science and applications at the nano-scale, including charge transfer, electron localization and generation, photoabsorption and photoemission, which are at the heart of the next generation single-molecule devices.

The Král group focuses on the theoretical description of novel transport phenomena and material structures at the nanoscale, with rich potential applications. They are especially attracted by hybrid environments, present in nanofluidic and biological systems, self-assembled nanoparticle superlattices, etc., where the interplay between different types of materials, phases, dimensionalities, energies and timescales is crucial. The physical, chemical and biological aspects of the studied problems are evaluated in a concerted way.

The Lorieau group's research works at the interface of biophysics, physical chemistry and biochemistry. With biophysical solution NMR, solid-state NMR and protein biochemistry, the Lorieau group studies proteins and biomolecules from multiple perspectives. Research in the Lorieau group focuses on protein structure and dynamics, membrane protein biophysics and new computational and theoretical tools for biophysics.

The Snee group focuses on the study of energy transfer in semiconductor nanocrystals (NCs). They are interested in (1) constructing novel semiconductor nanocrystal material systems to engineer energy transfer processes, (2) developing imaging agents based on their NC constructs and (3) bandgap engineering of multilayered nanocrystalline materials.

The Trenary group studies reactions on surface, which are important to chemical technologies such as heterogeneous catalysis, thin film growth, and semiconductor device fabrication. In one area of their research they use Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy to study molecules on the surfaces of metal single crystals. The high resolution of FTIR allows them to observe subtle changes in band shape and frequency as a function of temperature and coverage, which provides new insights into the way molecules interact with metal surfaces and with each other.