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Edwin J. Heilweil

Dr. Heilweil’s current research involves ultrafast infrared laser measurements using Fourier-transform instruments and infrared array detectors to perform time-resolved spectroscopy and imaging. Far-infrared technologies (Terahertz or THz) are developed to monitor chemical reactions on the femtosecond and longer timescales, measuring carrier dynamics in organic conducting polymers and nanolayered structures and novel organometallic systems for high efficiency solar cells. THz spectroscopy and imaging are also used to identify chemical threats and concealed objects for Homeland Security. Through pioneering efforts, he developed ultrafast broadband mid-infrared laser methods to examine vibrational energy transfer and photochemical processes in molecular gases and liquids and performed the first time-resolved vibrational lifetime measurements of adsorbates on dielectric and metal surfaces. These methods are now being employed to study the structures and dynamics of biomolecules in condensed phases, collaborative work on ultrafast biphasic chemical coordination in organometallic systems designed to function as molecular switches, and directly monitoring dynamical processes in di-iron hydrogenase mimics to reveal hydrogen gas production mechanisms in bacteria.

Professional associations include chair of the Organizing Committee of the International Time-Resolved Vibrational Spectroscopy conference and co-chair of the meeting in 2005, and chairing the “Molecular Dynamics and Vibrational Spectroscopy” Gordon Conferences in 2000 and 2002. Dr. Heilweil was a Physical Chemistry Division Alternate Councilor (2003-2006) and has been a member of the American Chemical Society (since 1978), Coblentz Society (since 2003), Sigma Xi (since 1985), and became a Fellow of the Optical Society of America in 2008. He served as an editorial advisory board member of the ACS Journal of Physical Chemistry from 2006 - 2012.

Heilweil began his career at NIST/NBS as a National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow in 1983. He has received several awards including the Instrument Society of America Beckman Award, Department of Commerce Stratton Award, and Sigma Xi Young Scientist Award. In 2008, he received the NIST/DoC Silver Medal for “contributions to ultrafast optical studies of vibrational energy transfer and terahertz spectroscopy.” Heilweil has authored 138 technical papers, delivered 141 invited talks and holds two U.S. Patents.

Projects currently underway include:

Far-infrared Spectroscopy of Biomolecules

Hydrogen Generation in Di-Iron Hydrogenase Mimics

Photovoltaic Carrier Dynamics

Terahertz Imaging and Bi-Directional Reflection Function Measurements for Homeland Security

Ultrafast Molecular Switch Dynamics

Edwin Heilweil


Research Chemist
Radiation Physics Division

Employment History:

1983-present NIST, Gaithersburg, MD


Ph.D. Physical Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

M.A. Physical Chemistry, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA

B.A. Chemistry, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA

B.A. Mathematics, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA


Phone: 301-975-2370
Fax: 301-869-7682