Headshot of Professor Ruggerio.

Michael T. Ruggiero


  • Associate Professor of Chemistry

PhD, Syracuse University, 2016

451 Hutchison Hall

Office Hours: By appointment


BS in chemistry, State University of New York: College at Geneseo, 2008–2012

PhD in chemistry, Syracuse University, 2012–2016

EPSRC Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Cambridge, 2016–2018

Research Overview

Over the past fifty years the development of advanced materials has rapidly progressed, solving long-standing technological problems in a variety of fields ranging from pharmaceutics to electronics. While the chemical compositions and designs of such materials vary greatly, their success is ultimately driven by a combination of molecular structure, intermolecular interactions, and corresponding atomic dynamics, particularly vibrational motions. My research interests lie at this interface, and we use an array of experimental and theoretical techniques to fully understand the fundamental forces that drive the performance of advanced materials, including pharmaceutical solids, organic semiconductors, metal-organic frameworks, and biological macromolecules.

The core of my research is related to the structure-dynamics relationship of molecular solids, i.e. how molecules are arranged and the nature of the molecular motions present. Specifically, we use low-frequency vibrational spectroscopies, including terahertz time-domain spectroscopy and low-frequency Raman spectroscopy, which are extensions of more well-known mid-infrared vibrational spectroscopies to lower-energies (0.3-30 THz, 10-1000 cm-1). These techniques are similar in concept to FTIR and traditional Raman spectroscopies, however the motions that are sampled often involve dynamics of entire molecules, instead of localized functional groups.

Figure 1.
Figure 1. Electromagnetic spectrum and corresponding dynamics

There is mounting evidence these low-frequency dynamics play a crucial role in the proper functioning of materials, having previously been shown to be critical in biomolecular processes, solid-state phase transformations, and gas-adsorption in metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). Our research focuses on understanding this important link by directly measuring the vibrational dynamics over an ultra-wide frequency range (0.3 – 30 THz). Combined with quantum-mechanical simulations, we can gain unprecedented insight into the relationship between structure, molecular motion, and the bulk properties of materials. Thus, research in the Ruggiero Lab is highly-interdisciplinary and collaborative, and work is performed on materials from many different fields, including organic semiconductors, MOFs, pharmaceutics, and energy-storage solids. There are opportunities for fully-experimental and fully-theoretical studies, as well as projects that combine both experiment and theory.

Figure 1.
Figure 2. Examples of terahertz dynamics in metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), which often involve rotations of linker molecules that control access to binding sites for guest molecules.

Research Interests

  • Physical and materials chemistry
  • Ultrafast terahertz vibrational spectroscopy and optics
  • Theoretical chemistry
  • Diffraction and crystallography

Selected Publications

  • P. A. Banks, G. D'Avino, G. Schweicher, J. Armstrong, C. Ruzié, J. W. Chung, J. Park, C. Sawabe, T. Okamoto, J. Takeya, H. Sirringhaus, M. T.Ruggiero. Untangling the Fundamental Electronic Origins of Non-Local Electron–Phonon Coupling in Organic Semiconductors. Advanced Functional Materials. 2303701. doi: 10.1002/adfm.202303701 (2023).
  • P. A. Banks, A. M. Dyer, A. C. Whalley, and M. T. Ruggiero. Side-Chain Torsional Dynamics Strongly Influence Charge Transport in Organic Semiconductors. Chemical Communications. 58 (92), 12803-12806. doi:10.1039/D2CC04979A (2022). Featured on Journal Front Cover. Featured on as part of Emerging Investigators 2022 Collection.
  • R. G. Schireman, J. Maul, A. Erba, and M. T. Ruggiero. Anharmonic Coupling of Stretching Vibrations in Ice: A Periodic VSCF and VCI Description. Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation. 18 (7), 4428–4437. doi:10.1021/acs.jctc.2c00217 (2022).
  • P. A. Banks, L. Burgess and M. T. Ruggiero. The Necessity of Periodic Boundary Conditions for the Accurate Calculation of Crystalline Terahertz Spectra. Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 23 (36), 20038-20051. doi:10.1039/D1CP02496E (2021).
  • M. Hutereau, P. A. Banks, B. Slater, J. A. Zeitler, A. D. Bond, and M. T. Ruggiero. Resolving Anharmonic Lattice Dynamics in Molecular Crystals with X-ray Diffraction and Terahertz Spectroscopy. Physical Review Letters, 125 (10), 103001. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.125.103001 (2020)