Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Debenedetti, Pablo G.
Location Princeton University
Primary Field Engineering Sciences
Secondary Field Applied Physical Sciences
 Election Citation
Debenedetti used molecular simulations to discover the nested domain pattern of water's thermodynamic, transport and structural anomalies. He formulated the singularity-free theory of supercooled water's thermodynamics. A definer of contemporary knowledge of supercooled liquids and glasses, he brought this field into mainstream engineering thermodynamics and has shown its technological relevance.
 Research Interests
My research interests include the thermodynamics and statistical mechanics of liquids and amorphous solids, the theory of phase transitions, and metastability. I have had a long-standing interest in supercooled and glassy water. Using theoretical and computational methods, my students, collaborators and I have shown that liquid water's structural, dynamic and thermodynamic anomalies emerge in a hierarchical pattern, each occurring inside a progressively smaller and nested region in water's phase diagram. We also explored computationally the phase diagram and evaporation kinetics of water confined by nanoscopic hydrophobic surfaces, and provided evidence, via computer simulation, of a connection between the dynamics of glass-forming liquids and the temperature-dependent sampling of their underlying energy landscape. Seeking to understand the many questions arising from experimental measurements of the physical properties of cold, non-crystalline water, I formulated thermodynamic theories that attempt to link experimental observations to possible underlying types of phase behavior. My recent work includes the use of free energy techniques to study phase transitions between liquid phases in atomistic models of water, the development of computational methods for studying water sorption on proteins, and studies of hydrate nucleation. I am also interested in understanding the origin of biological homochirality.

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