Prof. Budil’s group is interested in the physical behavior of macromolecules, including both synthetic polymers and biopolymers such as large proteins. Their principal investigative tool is electron spin resonance (ESR) spectroscopy, including very high-frequency ESR. Developmental research continues on a novel ESR spectrometer that requires superconducting magnetic fields and far-infrared light. By analogy with high-frequency NMR, high field ESR dramatically increases the dynamic and chemical information obtainable from spin-labeleled polymers and biopolymers.
Current research projects in the Budil group include: (1) Studies of the response of the estrogen receptor protein to estrogenic and anti-estrogenic ligands, in collaboration with Prof. Hanson; (2) Electrostatic mapping of protein and polymer surfaces using the sensitivity of nitroxide spin-labels to local and applied electric fields at high ESR frequency (3) Studies of ion transport in novel materials for the proton exchange membranes in fuel cells in collaboration with Prof. Mukerjee; (4) Molecular dynamics-based simulation of ESR spectra to correlate ESR spectroscopic results directly with molecular models; (4) High-field ESR studies of the ultrafast primary light reaction in photosynthesis.