Prof. Vidali's Astrophysics and Surface Science Research Laboratory
Astrophysics & Surface Science
Prof. Vidali's research is in Astrophysics (formation of molecules in the interstellar medium and in planetary environments) and in Surface Science (interaction of atoms and molecules with surfaces of solids).
Prof. Vidali's research has been written up in ScienceNews, Today's Science, Scientific American Online, The Washington Post - online, Popular Mechanics, Nature News - online, Chemical Engineering News, Il Sole 24 Ore, and others.
The National Science Foundation has awarded Professor Gianfranco Vidali a three-year, $736,600 grant to study how molecules stick, difuse and depart dust grains ("stardust") in the densest region of interstellar space—matter in the space between star systems. To read the announcement, click here.
Prof. Vidali enjoys talking about astrophysics/astrochemistry with colleagues, students and the lay public. He has given presentations at high-school, continuing education universities, colleges, and at national and international meetings, workshops, and symposia. Most recently he gave presentations at: Pierre and Marie Curie University (Paris 2016), 8th Cosmic Dust Meeting (Tokyo, 2015), IAU General Assembly- Laboraotory Astrophysics Division of AAS (Honolulu, 2015), Astrobiology Science Conference (Chicago, 2015), Indiana University of Pennsylvania (2015), 2nd Workshop on Experimental Laboratory Astrophysics (Kauai, 2015)), Columbia University - Nevis Laboratory (2014), Workshop on Interstellar Matter (Sapporo, Japan, 2014), COSPAR 2014 (Moscow. 2014), ACS National Meeting (Dallas, 2014), New York State Section of APS (SUNY- Oswego, 2014), and Faraday Discussion (Leiden, the Netherlands, 2014). He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Molecular hydrogen, the most abundant molecule in the universe, is formed mostly on interstellar grains; the effort to find how molecular hydrogen forms reflects the importance of this molecule in astrophysics and astrochemistry: molecular hydrogen aids the collapse of a cloud that eventually will become a star, and it intervenes - either neutral or charged - in most reactions leading to other molecules that have been found in space.
The other molecule we are interested in, water, is made by the interaction of hydrogen and oxygen. Again, most of the water found in space is formed on dust grains. How water forms on grains and how it is retained on them is important in astrobiology and in understanding how water was incorporated in planets like the Earth.