Brendan Sweeny

PhD Research Chemist


I am currently a Research Associate with the Boston College Institute for Scientific Research working at the Air Force Research Lab.

I currently explore the reaction kinetics of charged metal/metal-oxide clusters or metal ions and neutral molecules. I hold a PhD from UF where my research focus was plasmonic materials for solar photocatalysis.



Designed photocatalysts with specific physical and electronic properties through interfacing of metals (e.g. Au, Ag, Cu) and semiconductors (e.g. TiO2, ZnO, SrTiO3, WO3, ZrO2)


Developed strategies to elucidate enhancement mechanisms in plasmonic photocatalysts involving Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, gas chromatography, and photoelectrochemistry

Chemical Kinetics

Probed the temperature-dependent kinetics of ion/nanocluster reactions with neutral molecules using a selected-ion flow tube, density functional theory calulcations, and statistical modeling


Currently maintain a variable-temperature selected-ion flow tube mass spectrometer with multiple ion sources (laser vaporization, electrospray, electron impact)

Selected Publications

Custom Software and Hardware


A GUI tool for identifying charged species, particularly small metal and metal-oxide clusters, in a mass spectrum

ClusterID allows users to easily identify chemical species by mass and is especially useful for large-mass clusters. Read about it in this post.

Written in Python using the PyQt5 GUI framework.


PyWatlow is a Python driver for the Watlow EZ-Zone PM series of temperature controllers. The driver makes accessible to developers the hundreds of parameters outlined in the Watlow user manual. The driver can be found here: Python Package Index

As an example, a GUI tool for communicating with Watlow EZ-Zone PM3 temperature controllers has been developed. WatlowGUI allows users to set each controller to an individual temperature or to set groups of controllers to the same temperature. It clearly displays each setpoint and current temperature readings.

The controllers can be configured manually or by using a configuration file. Read about how to communicate with Watlow temperature controllers in this post.

WatlowGUI is written in Python using the PyQt5 GUI framework.

Laser Vap. Rod Rotator

A touch screen display that controls the rotation and translation behavior for a metal laser ablation target allowing the laser to ablate a fresh spot on the metal surface with each pulse. Read about it in this post.

The application runs on a Raspberry Pi 3 and is written in Python using the PyQt5 GUI framework. Translation and rotation are handled by a stepper motor connected to a threaded rod and magnetic vacuum feedthrough.

Turbo Pump Readout for Pfieffer Vacuum Pumps

An Intel Galileo-based turbomolecular vacuum pump display that communicates with a Pfieffer split-flow turbo pump via RS-485 and outputs the current rotation speed, temperature, and power for real-time workload monitoring. Read about it in this post.

Written in C++/Arduino.