Erin Nissen

  • Program Year: 1
  • Academic Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Field of Study: Chemistry
  • Academic Advisor: Dana Dlott
  • Practicum(s):
    Sandia National Laboratories, New Mexico (2018)
  • Degree(s):
    B.S. Chemistry, Colorado Mesa University, 2015

Summary of Research

During my graduate studies, I will explore the reactive dynamics of liquid water at high pressures and temperatures generated by shock waves. My goal is to probe ionization, viscosity, and hydrogen bonding dynamics as the liquid compression approaches the superionic phase boundary.
The Dlott group established a tabletop flyer plate apparatus to produce shocks in samples by impact of a laser-driven flyer plate, launched with speeds of 0.7-4.5 km⁄s via laser ablation of a thin foil. By controlling the impact velocity of the flyer plate, we can shock liquids to precise regions in their phase diagrams with pressures up to 25 GPa. The pressure is determined from the Rankine-Hugoniot equations, while temperature can be measured from the relative intensities of Stokes and anti-Stokes scattering in Raman spectroscopy.
I will perform femtosecond IR spectroscopy on shocked liquid water to track the evolution of covalent stretching and bending transitions, which are sensitive to hydrogen bond interactions and proton concentration, respectively. Fluorescence anisotropy measurements reporting on rotational motion of dissolved chromophores will complement the spectral data and provide evidence of the dynamics in shocked water.



Nissen, E. J.; Dlott, D. D.; Molecular Probing of Shocked Water. AIP Conf. Proc. in press, (2018).

Bhowmick, M.; Nissen, E. J.; Matveev, S. M.; Dlott, D. D.; Studies in Shocked Nitromethane Through High Dynamic Range Spectrosocpy. AIP Conf. Proc. in press, (2018).

Stekovic, S.; Nissen, E. J.; Bhowmick, M.; Stewart, S. D.; Dlott, D. D.; Numerical Predictions of Shock Propagation Through Unreactive and Reactive Liquids with Experimental Validation. AIP Conf. Proc. in press, (2018).

Sambur, J. B.; Chen, T.-Y.; Choudhary, E.; Chen, G.; Nissen, E. J.; Thomas, E. M.; Zou, N.; Chen, P. Sub-Particle Reaction and Photocurrent Mapping to Optimize Catalyst-Modified Photoanodes. Nature 2016, 530 (7588), 77-80.


Nissen, E. J.; Bhowmick, M.; Dlott, D. D. Investigation of Liquids Under Shock Compression. 2018 Stewardship Science Academic Programs (SSAP) Symposium, Bethesda, MD, 2018.

Nissen, E. J.; Dlott, D. D. Molecular Probing of Shocked Water. American Physical Society Topical Group: Shock Compression of Condensed Matter, St Louis, MO, 2017.

Nissen, E. J.; Dlott, D. D. Dynamics of Shock Compressed Water. 2017 Stewardship Science Academic Programs (SSAP) Symposium, Chicago, IL, 2017.

Nissen, E. J. Water and Oil: What Happens in Nonpolar Confinement. University of Illinois Literature Seminar, Urbana, IL, 2016.

Nissen, E. J.; Vattelana, A. M.; Haines, D. R. Synthesis of a Selectively Iodinated Isoquinoline Carboxylic Acid. 247th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Dallas, TX, 2014; CHED 19115.

Nissen, E. J.; Richards, J. Synthesis of Bis-Imidazole Compounds: Building Blocks for Corrole Analogs. Colorado Mesa University Student Showcase, Grand Junction, CO, 2014.


Highlighted in the 2018 American Physical Society March Meeting (2018)
American Physical Society Travel Award (2017)
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (declined, 2017)
DOE NNSA Stewardship Science Graduate Fellowship (2017)
University of Illinois Springborn Fellowship (2015-2017)
Colorado Mesa University Distinguished Scholarship (2011-2015)
Presidents List (2011-2015)
Sigma Pi Sigma-Physics Honor Society (2015)
Colorado Mesa University's Maverick of The Year (2014)
Physical Science's Student Showcase Winner (2014)
William and Wanda Putnam Scholarship (2014)
Kappa Mu Epsilon-Mathematics Honor Society (2014)
Alpha Chi Honor Society (2013)
Chevron Opportunity Scholarship (2013)
Colorado Mesa University Cheerleading Scholarship (2011)