Department of Chemistry



Geoffrey Hutchison

Associate Professor


316 Eberly
Eberly Hall

Pittsburgh, PA 15260

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Research Overview

Materials Chemistry, Theoretical and Computational Chemistry, Advanced Functional Materials, Computational Materials Design, Inorganic Synthesis

Our group develops new materials, as well as microscale and nanoscale functional devices literally from the bottom up. We focus on building electronic materials from molecular subunits, both organic and inorganic, using a variety of techniques to rationally design the desired properties. This encompasses chemical synthesis, characterization (both physical and chemical), combined with theoretical modeling and simulation.

Single-Molecule Springs and Nanoscale Piezoelectric Materials

Piezoelectric materials rapidly deform in response to an applied electric field and are one class of a wide variety of shape-deformable smart materials. They are both high-tech and low-tech, finding applications as airbag impact sensors, sonar transducers, and nanoscale positioning of scanning probe microscopy tips.

Molecular piezoelectricWe are developing a range of novel single-molecule “springs” which show high piezoelectric deformation and point to new directions in shape-deformable materials. These systems also reveal insight into weak electrostatic interactions and conformational changes involved in crystallization and protein folding.

Designer Defects: Nanoscale Functional Transistors

Imperfect nanoscale transistors

Organic conducting and semiconducting materials offer alternatives to conventional solid-state electronics, including unique processability and tailorability using conventional chemical synthesis. Their disordered structure, however, makes many standard analytical techniques difficult. For example, characterization of traps and defects in standard organic semiconductors can be extremely difficult, so their role is unknown.

Our group is developing model nanoscale transistors which allow carefully tailored introduction of known defects. We combine detailed electronic and electrochemical studies of monolayer transistors, synthesis of new semiconducting inorganic complexes, and molecular-level simulation of charge transport. This combination gives insight into the role of defects in transport, with the goal of developing improved semiconducting and conducting electronic materials.


  • Cottrell Scholar Award, 2012
  • Class of 1960 Lecturer, Williams College, 2012
  • Blue Obelisk Award in Cheminformatics, 2006
  • IBM Computational Chemistry Award of the American Chemical Society, 2002
  • Northwestern University Materials Research Center Fellowship, 2001-2003


“Efficient Computational Screening of Organic Polymer Photovoltaics,” I.Y. Kanal, S.G. Owens, J.S. Bechtel, G.R. Hutchison J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 2013, 4, 1613-1623
“Sequence Matters: Modulating Electronic and Optical Properties of Conjugated Oligomers via Tailored Sequence,” B.N. Norris, S. Zhang, C.M. Campbell, J.T. Auletta, P. Calvo-Marzal, G.R. Hutchison, T.Y. Meyer Macromolecules 2013, 46, 1384-1392
“Monte Carlo Simulations of Charge Transport in 2D Organic Photovoltaics,” A.G. Gagorik, J.W. Mohin, T. Kowalewski, G.R. Hutchison J. Phys. Chem. Lett 2013, 4, 36-42
“Simulating Charge Injection and Dynamics in Micro-Scale Organic Field-Effect Transistors,” A.G. Gagorik, G.R. Hutchison J. Phys. Chem. C 2012, 116, 21232-21239
“Avogadro: An Advanced Semantic Chemical Editor, Visualization, and Analysis Platform,” M.D. Hanwell, D.E. Curtis, D. Lonie, T. Vandermeersch, E. Zurek, G.R. Hutchison J. Cheminf. 2012, 4, 1-17
“Charge Transport in Imperfect Organic Field Effect Transistors: Effects of Explicit Defects and Electrostatics.,” M.D. Hanwell, T.A. Madison, and G.R. Hutchison J. Phys.Chem. C 2010, 114, 20417-20423
“Open Babel: An Open Chemical Toolbox.,” Geoffrey R. Hutchison, Michael Banck, Craig A. James, Chris Morley, Noel M. O’Boyle, Timothy Vandermeersch J. Cheminf 2011, 3, 33
“Effects of Charge Localization on the Orbital Energies of Bithiophene Clusters,” T.A. Madison, and G.R. Hutchison J. Phys.Chem. C 2011, 115, 17558-17563
“Computational Design and Selection of Optimal Organic Photovoltaic Materials,” N.M. O'Boyle, C.M. Campbell, and G.R. Hutchison J. Phys.Chem. C 2011, 115, 16200-16210
“Charge Transport in Imperfect Organic Field Effect Transistors: Effects of Explicit Defects and Electrostatics.,” M.D. Hanwell, T.A. Madison, and G.R. Hutchison J. Phys.Chem. C 2010, 114, 20417-20423