Dr. Andrew Petit

Office: MH-582A
Phone: (657) 278-5214

Email: apetit@fullerton.edu

Lab: MH-570
Phone: (657) 278-2357

Andrew Petit

Associate Professor Physical and Theoretical Chemistry & Graduate Program Advisor


Research Interests 

The Petit lab is a theoretical chemistry lab that is focused on using modern computational tools as a means of answering fundamental questions about what happens after molecules absorb light and become excited.  Current specific research projects include:

Understanding the Physical Organic Chemistry of Reactive Intermediates

We use modern density functional approaches to develop a mechanistic understanding of reactions involving reactive intermediates that are generated through photochemistry. One aspect of this is a collaboration with the de Lijser laboratory at CSUF where we are mapping out the connection between the molecular structure of oxime and oxime ether radical cations and their reactivity towards cyclization.  The understanding obtained through this study has the potential to lead to a new, environmentally friendly synthetic route towards heterocycles, compounds that are commonly found in pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and dyes. Another area of interest is in identifying the light-driven mechanism through which aryldiazoacetates react with alcohols.

Developing Structure-Photochemical Function Relationships in Photobases

Photobases are molecules that are transformed from weak bases into strong bases after absorbing light and becoming electronically excited. 5-aminoquinoline, for example, has its Kb increase from 2.45x10-9 to 79.43 after absorbing light, an increase by over 10 orders of magnitude!  Our group is applying density functional theory towards understanding how changing the molecular structure of photobases affects their photochemical properties, specifically photobasicity, excitation energy, and propensity to undergo intersystem crossing.  This work has the potential to influence the design of new photocatalysts.

Studying Fundamental Photochemistry of Atmospherically Relevant Molecules

In collaboration with the Nathan Kidwell’s research group at the College of William and Mary, we aim to better understand the photochemistry of atmospherically relevant systems. Part of this work focuses on components of brown carbon aerosol particles, collections of molecules in the atmosphere that contain organics which absorb visible and ultraviolet light.  Brown carbon aerosol particles contribute to the global climate through their interaction with solar light as well as atmospheric chemistry through photochemical reactions. Another part of this work involves understanding the mechanisms for energy transfer and/or chemical reaction between electronically excited NO and other atmospherically relevant molecules such as CO, H2O, CO2 C2H2, and O2. This latter study provides new insights into fundamental photochemical processes that influence a common experimental approach for detecting and quantifying NO.

Use of Computational Chemistry and Simulations to Help Students Visualize Abstract Ideas

We are broadly interested in developing activities that use computational chemistry and simulations to help students visualize abstract ideas and draw connections between the macroscopic and microscopic properties of matter.  We have developed a series of activities for physical and inorganic chemistry to help students understand key concepts in molecular orbital theory and spectroscopy.  These activities also expose students to modern computational chemistry by requiring them to setup input files, run the calculations, and interpret the results.   We have also developed a series of activities for physical chemistry focused on illustrating ideas involving statistical mechanics and thermodynamics.


Postdoctoral- University of Pennsylvania with Professor Joseph E. Subotnik
Ph.D. in Chemical Physics at The Ohio State University under Professor Anne B. McCoy
B.S. in Chemistry and B.A. in Physics from the University of Pittsburgh

Selected Publications

Publications with CSUF Student Coauthors

More publications available on Google ScholarOpens in new window .

Neisser, R.N.; Davis, J.P.; Alfieri, M.E.; Harkins, H.; Petit, A.S.; Tabor, D.P.; Kidwell, N.M. Photophysical Outcomes of Water-Solvated Heterocycles: Single-Conformation Ultraviolet and Infrared Spectroscopy of Microsolvated 2-Phenylpyrrole, J. Phys. Chem. A, 2023, in press.

Bridgers, A.N.; Urquilla, J.A.; Im, J.; Petit, A.S. Theoretical Study of the Photochemical Mechanisms of the Electronic Quenching of NO(A2Σ+) with CH4, CH3OH, and CO2, J. Phys. Chem. A, 2023, 127, 7228-7240. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jpca.3c03981 

Guardado, J.S.; Urquilla, J. A.; Kidwell, N.M.; Petit, A.S. Reactive Quenching of NO (A2Σ+) with H2O Leads to HONO: A Theoretical Analysis of the Reactive and Nonreactive Electronic Quenching Mechanisms, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2022, 24, 26717-26730. https://doi.org/10.1039/D2CP04214B

Gallardo, G.M.; Ventura, D.J.; Petit, A.S. Computationally Probing the Mechanism of the Blue-Light-Driven O-H Functionalization of Alcohols by Aryldiazoacetates: Photobasicity or Carbene Chemistry, J. Org. Chem., 2022, 87, 6212-6223. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.joc.2c00442

Tran, T., Nguyen, A., Torres, D., Pham, M.T., Petit, A.S. Computational Investigation of Substituted Isoinodole N-Oxides through the Photo-oxidative Cyclization of 2’-Alkynylacetophenone Oximes,  J. Org. Chem. 2021, 86, 15020-15032. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.joc.1c01715

Guardado, J.S.; Hood, D.J.; Luong, K.; Kidwell, N.M.; Petit, A.S. Stereodynamic Control of Collision-Induced Nonadiabatic Dynamics of NO (A2Σ+) with H2, N2, and CO: Intermolecular Interactions Drive Collision Outcomes, J. Phys. Chem. A, 2021, 125, 8803-8815. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jpca.1c05653

Alamudun, S.F., Tanovitz, K., Espinosa, L., Fajardo, A., Galvan, J., Petit, A.S. Structure-Photochemical Function Relationships in the Photobasicity of Aromatic Heterocycles Containing Multiple Ring Nitrogen Atoms. J. Phys. Chem. A, 2021, 125, 13-24. https://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.jpca.0c07013

Evans, A.C., Petit, A.S., Guillen, S.G., Neukirch, A.J., Hoffmann, S.V., Jones, N.C. Chiroptical Characterization Tools for Asymmetric Small Molecules – Experimental and Computational Approaches for Electronic Circular Dichroism (ECD) and Anisotropy Spectroscopy, RSC Advances, 2021, 11 1635-1643. https://doi.org/10.1039/D0RA06832B

Kim, W.S., Espinoza, V.M., Abiad, A., Ko, M., Council, A., Nguyen, A., Marsalla, L., Lee, V., Tran, T., Petit, A.S., de Lijser, H.J.P. Mechanistic Investigation of the Formation of Isoindole N-Oxides in the Electron Transfer-Mediated Oxidative Cyclization of 2’-Alkynylacetophenone Oximes, J. Org. Chem. 2021, 86, 693-708. https://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.joc.0c02318

Blackshaw, K.J., Marracci, M., Korb, R.T., Quartey, N.-K., Ajmani, A.K., Hood, D. J., Abelt, C.J., Ortega, B.I., Luong, K., Petit, A.S., Kidwell, N.M. Dynamical Signatures from Competing Nonadiabatic Fragementation Pathways of S-Nitrosothiophenol, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2020, 22, 12187-12199. https://doi.org/10.1039/d0cp00941eOpens in new window

Alamudun, S.F., Tanovitz, K., Fajardo, A., Johnson, K., Pham, A., Jamshidi Araghi, T., Petit, A.S. Structure-Photochemical Function Relationships in Nitrogen-Containing Heterocyclic Aromatic Photobases Derived from Quinoline. J. Phys. Chem. A, 2020, 124, 13, 2537-2546 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jpca.9b11375Opens in new window

Ulloa, L.K., Kong, S., Vigil, A.M., Petit, A.S. Computational Investigation of Substituent Effects on the Formation and Intramolecular Cyclization of 2’-Arylbenzaldehyde and 2’-Arylacetophenone Oxime Ether Radical Cations, J. Org. Chem., 2019, 84, 22, 14659-14669. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.joc.9b02240Opens in new window

Blackshaw, K.J., Ortega, B.I., Quartey, N.-K., Fritzeen, W.E., Korb, R.T., Ajmani, A.K, Mongomery, L., Marracci, M., Vanegas, G.G., Galvan, J., Sarvas, Z., Petit, A.S., Kidwell, N.M. Nonstatistical Dissociation Dynamics of Nitroaromatic Chromophores, J. Phys. Chem. A, 2019, 123, 19, 4262-4273 (2019).  https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jpca.9b02312Opens in new window


Courses Taught

Spring 2024 Office Hours

Chem 120B Office Hours: Mon 8am-8:50am, Fri 11am-12pm/ Chem 361B Office Hours: Tue 2:30pm-3:30pm, Thur 10am-11am.