David Nesbitt
Adjoint Professor

Office: JILA A805
Lab: JILA B212, B214, B217, B219, B221, X120
Lab Phone: 303-492-1453,303-492-1454, 303-735-5825, 303-735-6172, 303-492-7777, 303-492-6409
Fax: 303-735-1424


Ph.D.: University of Colorado, 1981
Postdoctoral Fellow: National Research Fellow at National Bureau of Standards, 1981-82

Areas of Expertise

Instrument Development, Bioanalytical Chemistry, Molecular Biophysics, Atmospheric/Astrochemistry, Biophysics, Kinetics/Thermochemistry

Awards and Honors

Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2013; Fellow, American Chemistry Society, 2010; Presidential Rank Award, Department of Commerce, 2009; Fellow, Royal Society of Chemistry (UK), 2005; NIST Fellow, National Institute of Standards and Technology, 2005; Bourke Medal, Royal Society of Chemistry, Faraday Division, 2002; Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship, 1999; William F. Meggers Award, Optical Society of America, 1999; Earle K. Plyler Prize, 1997; Edward Uhler Condon Award, 1995; Department of Commerce Silver Medal, 1992; Arthur S. Fleming Award, 1991; Fellow, American Physical Society, 1991; Wilson Prize Lecture (Harvard University) , 1989; Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, 1987; Dreyfus Foundation Grant for Newly Appointed Faculty in Chemistry, 1984; ACS Nobel Laureate Signature Award, 1983

Laser Studies of Spectroscopy, Reaction Dynamics and Single Molecule Microscopy: Chemical Physics, Nanomaterials and Biophysics

The Nesbitt Laboratory pursues research in four main areas:

  1. High resolution laser spectroscopy of radicals, ions and molecular ion clusters
  2. Chemical Reaction Dynamics: Gas Phase and Interfaces
  3. Quantum nanostructures and photonic nanomaterials
  4. Single Molecule Biophysics: Microscopy, Kinetics and Thermodynamics


The group's work involves extensive use of state-of-the art cw and ultrafast pulsed laser technology, nonlinear generation of tunable mid and near-infrared laser light, fast analog electronics, scan probe methods, confocal microscopy, servo-loop control, shaped supersonic expansions, plasma discharges, kinetic analysis and ab initio quantum theoretical calculations. A central unifying goal of the research program is the elucidation of fundamental kinetics and dynamics of elementary chemical/biophysical processes from both experimental and theoretical perspectives.

Professor Nesbitt is a Fellow of JILA, a Physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a Full Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and a Lecturer in the Department of Physics.

J. L. Fiore, E. D. Holmstrom and D. J. Nesbitt, "An entropic origin of Mg+2–facilitated RNA folding," Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 109, 2902-2907 (2012).

J. R. Roscioli, D. Bell, and D. J. Nesbitt, "State-resolved velocity map imaging of surface–scattered molecular flux," Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 14, 4013-4304 (2012).

E. D. Holmstrom, J. L. Fiore and D. J. Nesbitt, "Thermodynamic Origins of Monovalent-Facilitated RNA Folding," Biochemistry 51, 3732-3743 (2012).

M. P. Ziemkiewicz, A. Zutz, and D. J. Nesbitt, "Inelastic scattering of radicals at the gas-ionic liquid interface:  Probing surface dynamics of [bmim][Cl], [bmim][BF4], and [bmim][Tf2N] by rovibronic scattering of NO [2P1/2(0.5)]," J. Phys. Chem. C. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/jp212336a (2012)

M. A. Roberts, C. Savage, F. Dong, E. N. Sharp-Williams, A. B. McCoy, and D. J. Nesbitt, "Sub-Doppler Infrared Spectroscopy of CH2D Radical in a Slit Supersonic Jet: Isotopic Symmetry Breaking in the C-H Stretching Manifold," J. Chem. Phys. 136, 234308 (2012).

A. W. Gisler and D. J. Nesbitt, "On Probing Ions at the Gas-Liquid Interface by Quantum State-Resolved Molecular Beam Scattering: The Curious Incident of the Cation in the Night Time," Faraday Disc. 157,  297-305   doi: 10.1039/c2fd20026k (2012).

D. J. Nesbitt, "Toward state-to-state dynamics in ultracold collisions: Lessons from high resolution spectroscopy of weakly bound molecular complexes," Chem. Rev. dx.doi.org/10.1021/cr300208b (2012).

A. Grubisic, E. Ringe, C. M. Cobley, Y. Xia, L. D. Marks, R. P. Van Duyne, and D. J. Nesbitt, "Plasmonic Near Electric Field Enhancement Effects in Ultrafast Photoelectron Emission: Correlated Spatial and Laser Polarization Microscopy Studies of Individual Ag Nanocubes," Nano Lett.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/nl302271u   (2012).

M.  A. Roberts, E. N. Sharp-Williams, and D. J. Nesbitt, "High-Resolution Direct-Absorption Spectroscopy of Hydroxymethyl Radical in the CH Symmetric Stretching Region," J. Phys. Chem. A 117 , 7042-7049   DOI: 10.1021/jp312877k (2013)

N. F. Dupuis, E. D. Holmstrom, D. J. Nesbitt, "Single Molecule Kinetics Reveal Cation Promoted DNA Duplex Formation Through Ordering of Single Stranded Helices," Biophys. J. 105, 756-766, DOI: 10.1016/j.bpj.2013.05.061 (2013).

C.-H. Chang, G. T. Buckingham and D. J. Nesbitt, "Sub-Doppler Spectroscopy of trans-HOCO Radical in the OH Stretching Mode," J. Phys. Chem. A, 117, 13255-13264 DOI:10.1021/jp403386d (2013).

K. T. Early and D. J. Nesbitt, "Size-dependent Photoionization in Single CdSe/ZnS Nanocrystals," Nano Lett 13, 4844-4849 http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/nl402607a (2013)

E. D. Holmstrom, N. F. Dupuis, and D. J. Nesbitt, "Single-Molecule Pulsed Infrared Heating Studies of DNA Duplex Dissociation," Biophys. J. 106, 220-231 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bpj.2013.11.008 (2014).