Research in the Kulik group

Research in the Kulik group leverages computational modeling to aid the discovery of new materials and mechanisms. Our group uses first-principles modeling to unearth fundamental aspects of structure-property relationships in catalysts and materials. By taking a computational approach, we carry out studies that allow us to make connections across a wide range of catalytic systems from biological enzymes to emerging heterogeneous single-atom catalysts. We develop computational software and machine learning models that accelerate the discovery of new materials and design rules. This approach enables the prediction of new materials properties in seconds, the exploration of million-compound design spaces, and the identification of design rules and exceptions that go beyond intuition. To ensure the predictive power of our approach, our group develops new methods to increase the accuracy of density functional theory especially for materials with challenging electronic structure such as transition metal complexes and solids.

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New insights into how Nafion breaks down

Polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) represent promising energy storage solutions, but challenges remain to maximize their utility. Nafion is frequently employed as the PEMFC membrane material, but degradation of Nafion can limit the life of PEMFCs. Using hybrid density functional theory (DFT), we carry out reaction pathway analysis on a range of candidate degradation pathways on both pristine and defect-containing models of Nafion. Degradation of pristine Nafion initiated by hydrogen radicals involves moderate (ca.

Diagnosing strong correlation with help from ML

High-throughput computational screening typically employs methods (i.e., density functional theory or DFT) that can fail to describe challenging molecules, such as those with strongly correlated electronic structure. In such cases, multireference (MR) correlated wavefunction theory (WFT) would be the appropriate choice but remains more challenging to carry out and automate than single-reference (SR) WFT or DFT.

Sampling and QM region are equally important

Quantum-mechanical/molecular-mechanical (QM/MM) methods are essential to the study of metalloproteins, but the relative importance of sampling and degree of QM treatment in achieving quantitative predictions is poorly understood. We study the relative magnitude of configurational and QM-region sensitivity of energetic and electronic properties in a representative Zn2+ metal binding site of a DNA methyltransferase. To quantify property variations, we analyze snapshots extracted from 250 ns of molecular dynamics simulation.


About Us

The Kulik group focuses on the development and application of new electronic structure methods and atomistic simulations tools in the broad area of catalysis.

Our Interests

We are interested in transition metal chemistry, with applications from biological systems (i.e. enzymes) to nonbiological applications in surface science and molecular catalysis.

Our Focus

A key focus of our group is to understand mechanistic features of complex catalysts and to facilitate and develop tools for computationally driven design.

Contact Us

Questions or comments? Let us know! Contact Dr. Kulik: