Georgetown University
The Swift Lab

Current Projects

The Swift lab is broadly interested in understanding the nucleation, growth, phase changes and physical properties of molecular crystals. This research area has many direct applications to the medical, pharmaceutical, defense, and food-product industries. All projects are highly interdisciplinary, enabling students to gain valuable experience in at least a few different areas of chemistry and material science including x-ray crystallography, physical characterization methods, atomic force microscopy (AFM), organic synthesis, and/or computational modeling.

Ongoing projects include:

Crystal deposition diseases/biomineralization

The formation of kidney stones, gout, and gallstones are all examples of undesirable crystallization processes. Our lab uses a variety of techniques to elucidate key steps in the development of these pathogenic deposits. We use in situ AFM to monitor the molecular-level growth of select crystal phases in order to determine how solution parameters directly affect the growth kinetics and/or mechanisms. Other studies have examined adhesion on crystal surfaces, the role of impurities, and the transformations of metastable crystal phases.

Template-directed nucleation

The Swift group is developing and using designer surfaces to control the phase, size, defect density and/or orientation of a wide variety of molecular crystals. The long term goal is to elucidate the interfacial requirements for heterogeneous nucleation in order to better predict crystallization of energetic materials, pharmaceuticals, and other model compounds a priori.

Structure-property relationships of hydrates, polymorphs and cocrystals

The Swift group is broadly interested in elucidating the fundamental structural, thermal, and mechanical properties of hydrates and/or polymorphic forms in a range of model and industrially-relevant compounds.