David M. Schrader


David M. Schrader, Ph.D.
Research Professor, Physical Chemistry
(414) 288-3332
E-mail: david.schrader@mu.edu

Professor Schrader obtained his B.S. from Iowa State University and earned his Ph.D. degree in 1961 from the University of Minnesota. His interests in theoretical chemistry led him to a research fellowship at Columbia University and the IBM Watson Laboratory. In 1963, he accepted a position as assistant professor in the chemistry department at the University of Iowa. Professor Schrader joined the faculty at Marquette in 1968. He became Research Professor in 1996.

Research Fields
Quantum theory of atomic and molecular structure, especially systems interacting with positrons or positronium atoms, both bound and scattering states. Storage of large quantities of positronium; stabilization by electromagnetic levitation; controlled energy release by annihilation.

The positron is the antiparticle of the electron. It sometimes called and thought of as "exotic," but it is the most common of the uncommon particles. It is easily, safely, and conveniently obtained for laboratory experiments in the form of a beta-emitter such as sodium-22. It is a unique probe for many chemical systems, and has proven valuable in industry as a tool for characterizing polymers, semiconductors, alloys, surfaces, coatings, and so forth. It has a rich chemistry, both in the gas and liquid phases.

The positron annihilates in ordinary matter with a lifetime of about a nanosecond, which is a long time on most chemical scales (for example, air molecules vibrate a million times in a nanosecond). A positron can form a neutral atom with an electron. This atom, called "positronium," has a mass of about 0.0001 Daltons. It has all the states of the hydrogen atom but they are only half as deeply bound.

We have been calculating wave functions for compounds of positronium, Ps, for many years. The simplest of these is PsH, positronium, which consists of two electrons, a positron, and a proton. There are many other compounds.

We are investigating a new way to accurately model the electron-positron interaction in quantum mechanics. Our method will enable us to investigate, for the first time, large molecular systems interacting with positrons.

We are involved in a project that seeks to capture and stabilize macroscopic quantities of positronium atoms for controlled release. This form of energy production is the ultimate in efficiency in terms of mass-to-energy conversion. It's uses, which are potentially manifold, include intergalactic navigation.

Selected Publications


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