Department of Chemistry



Jennifer Laaser

Assistant Professor


Chevron Science Center
219 Parkman Avenue

Pittsburgh, PA 15260

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Research Overview

Physical Chemistry / Polymer Physics / Polymeric Materials

Polymers are all around us. From our clothing and our building materials to our medications and our foods, polymers - and particularly responsive polymers whose properties change with stimuli like heat, light, and pH -  are a versatile platform for many applications.

In the Laaser Lab, we are interested in developing a physical understanding of how changes at the molecular level translate to the macroscopic properties of responsive polymeric materials. For example, how does a change in charge spacing affect the interactions between charged polymers, and at what point do the polymers stop behaving like isolated chains in solution and start behaving like part of a bulk material? How do orientational changes in single polymer chains propagate through a material to achieve macroscopic ordering? And how do polymeric networks transduce force, to achieve things like mechanochemical responses?

We explore these questions by a number of optical and spectroscopic methods, such as light scattering and Raman and infrared spectroscopy, along with classical materials characterization methods like rheology and electron microscopy. Together, these methods allow us to develop new understanding of the structure and dynamic properties of responsive polymeric materials, and offer students the opportunity to gain broad experience in both physical chemistry and polymer science.


  • L’Oreal for Women in Science Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2014
  • AAAS Mass Media Fellowship, 2013
  • Casey Excellence in Research Award, UW-Madison, 2013
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, 2008
  • Werner-Bergmann Prize, Yale University, 2008


“Interpolyelectrolyte Complexes of Polycationic Micelles and Linear Polyanions: Structural Stability and Temporal Evolution,” J. E. Laaser, Y. Jiang, S. R. Petersen, T. M. Reineke, T. P. Lodge J. Phys. Chem. B 2015, 119, 15919-15928
“pH- and Ionic-Strength-Induced Contraction of Polybasic Micelles in Buffered Aqueous Solutions,” J. E. Laaser, Y. Jiang, D. Sprouse, T. M. Reineke, T. P. Lodge Macromolecules 2015, 48, 2677-2685
“Dye Self-Association Identified by Intermolecular Couplings Between Vibrational Modes as Revealed by Infrared Spectroscopy, and Implications for Electron Injection,” J. E. Laaser, J. R. Christianson, T. A. Oudenhoven, Y. Joo, P. Gopalan, J. R. Schmidt, M. T. Zanni J. Phys. Chem. C 2014, 118, 5854-5861
“Two-Dimensional Sum-Frequency Generation Reveals Structure and Dynamics of a Surface-Bound Peptide,” J. E. Laaser, D. R. Skoff, J.-J. Ho, Y. Joo, A. Serrano, J. D. Steinkruger, P. Gopalan, S. H. Gellman, M. T. Zanni J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2013, 136, 956-962
“Adding a Dimension to the Infrared Spectra of Interfaces using Heterodyne Detected 2D Sum-Frequency Generation (HD 2D SFG) Spectroscopy,” W. Xiong, J. E. Laaser, R. D. Mehlenbacher, M. T. Zanni Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 2011, 108, 20902-20907
“Time-Domain SFG Spectroscopy Using Mid-IR Pulse Shaping: Practical and Intrinsic Advantages,” J. E. Laaser, W. Xiong, M. T. Zanni J. Phys. Chem. B 2011, 115, 2536-2546
“Transient 2D IR Spectroscopy of Charge Injection in Dye-Sensitized Nanocrystalline Thim Films,” W. Xiong, J. E. Laaser, P. Paoprasert, R. A. Franking, R. J. Hamers, P. Gopalan, M. T. Zanni J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2009, 131, 18040-18041