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Dr. Christopher L. Suiter


Dr. Christopher Suiter joined the Applied Chemicals and Materials Division at NIST, Boulder in March 2016 as a National Research Council postdoctoral associate with Dr. Tom Bruno.  Dr. Suiter obtained his PhD from the University of Delaware under the guidance of Dr. Tatyana Polenova. His PhD research focused on applying solid-state magic angle spinning NMR spectroscopy to obtain structural and dynamics insights of HIV-1 protein assemblies as well as developing non-uniform sampling methods for use in solid-state NMR spectroscopy. His primary research interest at NIST is the study of intermolecular interactions andf other fluid properties that impact the effective development and utilization of fuels, both gaseous and liquid.  In the area of liquid fuels, he is measuring the interactions of lubricating molecules with other fuel components, to quantify the importance of energetic parameters in determining lubricity.  This has impact in applications requiring liquid fuels to serve as both propellant and lubricant.  In the area of gaseous fuels, Dr. Suiter is observing interactions between odorants and their biological targets with the goal of understanding odor loss in fuel gas samples. In his spare time Chris enjoys playing guitar, being outdoors, and sports.


Research Interests

Lubricity at the Molecular Level

In addition to their role as propellants, motor fuels (such as those used by automotive, aircraft, and diesel engines) are now expected to possess lubricating qualities that extend the lifetime of engine components.  In recent years, environmental concerns have led to regulations that limit the amount of sulfur (a component that furnished a measure of lubricity) which may be present in motor fuels.  The chemical processes utilized to reduce the sulfur content in motor fuels also reduce the content of other compounds responsible for motor fuel lubricity.  Considering there is currently a push towards eliminating lubricating subsystems in favor of single fluid model where motor fuel is the propellant, lubricant, and heat sink, this is undesirable.  We are utilizing NMR spectroscopy to monitor intermolecular interactions between lubricant base species and their interactors to extract relevant thermodynamic parameters.  A more in depth understanding of lubrication at the molecular level may be useful for developing appropriate additive mixtures to increase the lubricity of motor fuels.   

Odor Loss in the Fuel Gas Industry

The human sense of smell, or olfaction, is based on our ability to detect relatively small and volatile chemicals known as odorants. In the fuel gas industry sulfur containing odorants such as 2-methylpropane-2-thiol (TBM) are added as a means of hazard detection. Reports have surfaced where batches of fuel gas, which have been properly odorized, possess no smell. Interestingly, analytical testing of such samples suggests that odorants are present in appreciable concentrations. This observation provides evidence that the problem is not related to odorant fade but rather our ability to detect the odor. Odor detection anomalies such as suppression, cross adaptation, and conjugation have been described previously and we are using NMR spectroscopy as a method to probe intermolecular interactions between odorants and their biological receptors to understand these phenomena.



PhD, Chemistry, University of Delaware, January 2016

Dissertation: “Insights into the Structure and Dynamics of HIV-1 Maturation Intermediates and Nonuniform Sampling Methods for Magic Angle Spinning NMR”

Dissertation Advisor: Prof. Tatyana Polenova

B.A., Chemistry, West Virginia University, May

Awards and Honors

Travel Award for 54th Experimental Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Conference, 2013

Suraj Manrao Science Foundation Poster Presentation Award, 2013

Research Coordination Network Travel Award, 2012

University of Delaware Professional Development Award, 2012

Elizabeth Dyer Excellence in Teaching Award, 2012

Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Assistant Award, 2009

Hypercube Scholar Award, 2009


Created June 21, 2016, Updated August 25, 2016