Date: October 25, 2009
Larry Romsted receives $1 million in research funding from the National Science Foundation and the United States Department of Agriculture.
The underlying theme of Romsted’s research is to use the methodologies of physical organic chemistry to understand the forces responsible for the spontaneous self-assembly of surfactant molecules in water. The molecules form aggregates called micelles, microemulsions, and liposomes, and also emulsions. In daily life, surfactants are found in many commercial products such as hand soaps, toothpaste, cosmetics, and washing detergent. They are also used in drug delivery and stabilization, agricultural sprays, tertiary oil recovery, and in foods and beverages.
Romsted developed the pseudophase ion exchange model that is provides the current basis for describing how surfactant solutions catalyze bimolecular reactions. At Rutgers, his research group developed a unique chemical trapping method to understand how the interactions between water and ions determine the organization of surfactants into spherical, threadlike or layered structure in solution.
His new NSF grant, Chemical Determinations of Ion Specific Effects on Association Colloid Morphologies, Protein Topologies at Biomimetic Interfaces, and Reactivity and Component Distributions in Emulsions is a four-year grant that supports new investigations into the balance of forces controlling the morphologies of surfactant solutions and a new method for determining protein orientations and conformations in biological membranes.
Romsted is also the Principal Investigator on a new three-year grant from the USDA, Development of New Strategies to Encapsulate and Stabilize Citrus Flavors (Citral), in collaboration with colleagues, Qingrong Huang and Chi-Tang Ho, at the Food Science Department at Rutgers. This is a basic research proposal with potential practical outcomes. The results should lead to a new understanding of the organization of components in emulsions, e.g., surfactant, water and oil and their effect on chemical reactivity (or stability) of components such as antioxidants within them. The results will aid in selecting the most efficient antioxidant for long-term stabilization of emulsified foods.