Richard G. Weiss

Office: 422 Regents Hall
Phone: 202-687-6013
Fax: 202-687-6209

Lab web site




Sc.B. 1965, Brown University
M.S. 1967, University of Connecticut
Ph.D. 1969, University of Connecticut
NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, California Institute of Technology, 1969-1971; Visiting Professor: University of São Paulo, Brazil (1972-1976); Max-Planck-Institut für Strahlenchemie, Muhlheim/Ruhr, Germany (1981); Université Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg, France (1982); Université de Bordeaux I, Talence, France (1982); Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India (1989-1990, 1998); Institute of Photographic Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences (1997-1998).; Indian Institute of Technology at Kanpur, Kanpur, India (2006); Kumamoto University, Kumamoto, Japan (2006); State University of Campinas, Campinas, Brazil (2006); Universidad de Costa Rica, San Jose, Costa Rica (2009); Chinese Academy of Sciences Visiting Professorship for Senior International Scientist (2013); Pfizer Visiting Professorship at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India (2014); Universidade de Vigo, Vigo, Spain (2014);

U.S. National Academy of Science Overseas Fellow (1971-1974); Fellow of the Indo-U.S. Subcommission on Education and Culture (1989-1990); Fulbright Research Fellow (1998); Foreign Member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences; CareerResearch Award, Georgetown University (2002); International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry Fellow (2008); Doctor honoris causa, Universite Bordeaux 1, Bordeaux, France (2009); Charles L. Gordon Award from the Chemical Society of Washington (2012); National Academy of Inventors (2014); Fulbright-Brazil Scientific Mobility Program Distinguished Chair (2015).

Senior Editor for Langmuir (2004-2014); Member of the Advisory Editorial Board of the Journal of the Brazilian Chemical Society; Associate Editor for Polimeros: Ciencia e Tecnologia (jornal of the Brazilian Polymers Association (ABPol).



Organic Chemistry I & II, Organic Chemistry Lab I & II, Solution Kinetics, Special Topics in Organic Chemistry (Photochemistry and Free Radicals), Physical Organic Chemistry

Research Interests

Materials and physical organic chemistry and organic photochemistry and photophysics; syntheses and properties of thermally and chemically reversible gels; study of reaction rates and mechanisms; anisotropic solvent effects on reaction mechanisms; ionic liquid crystals as mechanistic probes and ‘green solvents’; molecular processes in polymers.

We continue to develop experimental techniques which employ anisotropic solvents (specifically gels, liquid crystals, solids, and polymers) as reaction media and which allow previously inaccessible details of thermal and photochemical reaction mechanisms to be elucidated. The techniques are being applied to unimolecular, bimolecular, and polymer reactions, as well as to explore the microscopic ordering of anisotropic media. Reactions of the media themselves are being used to develop molecular switches and devices and to characterize novel phases of ordered molecules. Some of the media, such as isothermally rheoreversible gels, are being exploited for other applications, including art conservation.  In addition, we are developing probes based on photochemical reactions that generate chemically identical but spatially different chiral and prochiral singlet radical pairs to explore the rates of tumbling and translational diffusion of species within ‘cages’ afforded by isotropic liquids and anisotropic media.  Some of the gels and polymeric dispersions are being used for art conservation and oil/chemical spill remediation.

Recent Publications

“Partially hydrolyzed poly(vinyl acetate)-borax based gel-like materials for conservation of art. Characterization and applications” Angelova L. V.; Berrie, B. H.; de Ghetaldi, K.; Kerr, A.; Weiss, R. G. Studies in Conservation, advance article. (DOI:

“Self-assembled fibrillar networks and molecular gels employing 12-hydroxystearic acid and its isomers and derivatives”  Mallia, V. A.; Weiss, R. G. J. Phys. Org. Chem. 2014, 27, 310–315.
(DOI: 10.1002/poc.3193)

“Insights into Organogelation and its Kinetics from Hansen Solubility Parameters. Toward a priori Predictions of Molecular Gelation” Diehn, K. K.; Oh, H.; Hashemipour, R.; Weiss, R. G.; Raghavan, S. R. Soft Matter 2014, 10, 2632-2640. (DOI: 10.1039/C3SM52297K)

“Quantitative and Selective Conversion of Thiols to Disulfides and Hydrogen by Visible Light Irradiation of Quantum Dots” Li, X.-B.; Li, Z.-J.; Gao, Y.-J.; Meng, Q.-Y.; Yu, S.; Weiss, R. G.; Tung, C.-H.; Wu, L.-Z. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2014, 53, 2085-2089. (DOI: 10.1002/anie.201310249)

“Comparing and Correlating Solubility Parameters Governing Self-Assembly of Molecular Gels Using 1,3:2,4-Dibenzylidene Sorbitol as the Gelator” Lan, Y.; Corradini, M. G.; Liu, X.; May, T.
E.; Borondics, F.; Weiss, R. G.; Rogers, M. A. Langmuir ASAP. (ACS Editors’ Choice, 5 June 2014; (DOI: 10.1021/la5008389)

“The past, present, and future of molecular gels.  What is the status of the field and where is it going?” Weiss, R. G. J. Am. Soc. 2014, 136, 7519-7530. (invited Perspective) (DOI:10.1021/ja503363v)

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