Professor Paul Brumer

Department of Chemistry

Appointed a University Professor in 1995

Professor Paul Brumer of the Department of Chemistry is one of the world's leading theoretical chemists. He has been at the forefront of two major areas in chemical physics: using nonlinear mechanics to understand molecular dynamics, and controlling chemical reactions with lasers.

The concepts of nonlinear mechanics and chaos were introduced to the North American scientific community in the early 1970's. Professor Brumer was one of the first to recognize the significance of these developments to molecular dynamics and chemical physics. He introduced numerous nonlinear techniques into chemistry, established the intimate connection between chaotic behavior and statistical theories of chemical reactions, proposed the first useful criteria for the onset of chaos in molecules, and pioneered the use of nonlinear mechanics in the analysis of conservative molecular dynamics. This field is now an area of great interest to a large number of researchers.

Professor Brumer has developed sophisticated theoretical tools to resolve important questions in "quantum chaos", the conceptually puzzling area that addresses the inability of quantum mechanics to treat nonlinear systems that are classically chaotic. He has used these tools to address the fundamental problem of quantum/classical correspondence in chaotic and regular systems. In doing so, he has resolved several problems which have plagued the area for decades.

Controlling molecular processes in general, and chemical reactions in particular, has been a long-standing goal of chemistry. In 1986 Professor Brumer and co-workers proposed a general principle of using lasers to control molecular processes, the principle of coherent control. His research group has developed this method and applied it to control a wide variety of molecular processes, including photodissociation, bimolecular collisions, nanoscale deposition of molecules on surfaces, the refractive index of materials, asymmetric synthesis, etc. The work of Professor Brumer and co-workers has created a new research area, that of coherent control of molecular processes, that opens substantial new areas for experimental and theoretical study, a major contribution to chemical physics.

Professor Brumer's work has been recognized in numerous ways. He has been an A.P. Sloan Foundation Fellow and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Chemical Institute of Canada and the American Physical Society. He has received two Canada Council Killam Research Fellowships and is one of the youngest recipients of the CIC Palladium Medal, the highest award of the Chemical Institute of Canada. He was the recipient of the prestigious 2000 Killam Memorial Prize in Physical Sciences and is currently the Roel Buck Chair in Chemical Physics.