Experimental and Theoretical Chemical Physics

Chemical Physics is the fundamental study of molecular properties and processes. Areas of expertise include probing molecular structure in the gas phase, clusters and nanoparticles, the development and application of physicochemical techniques such as mass spectoscropy to molecular systems and the EaStCHEM surface science group, who study complex molecules on surfaces, probing the structure property-relationships employed in heterogeneous catalysis. A major feature is In Silico Scotland, a world class research computing facility.
The strengths of this theme include complementary experimental and theoretical activities in the development of advanced analytical and modelling techniques (Botting, Buehl, Langridge-Smith, Michel, CMorrison, van Mourik), ultra-fast optical spectroscopies (ECampbell, Jones, Kirrander), laser-induced nucleation (Alexander), surface chemistry (Buck, Baddeley, Haehner, Richardson, Schaub), atmospheric chemistry (Heal), and complex fluid dynamics (Camp).
A new multi-million pound ultrafast laser spectroscopy laboratory has recently been installed, and theoretical research in a variety of areas has been strengthened, to complement and add critical mass to strong experimental activities within time-resolved dynamics and spectroscopy, NMR technique development, drug development and homogeneous catalysis. This theme is also strongly supported by advanced experimental infrastructure and expertise within SCISS (the Scottish Centre for Interdisciplinary Surface Spectroscopy) and COSMIC (the Collaborative Optical Spectroscopy, Micromanipulation and Imaging Centre) as well as the facilities available within EaStCHEM's research computing facility and HECToR, the national high–performance computing service for the UK academic community.

Research Highlights since 2008

Major contributions include a flexible method for creating ordered structures with nanometre precision by functionalising hydrogen-bonded surfaces (Buck, Nature 2008), the use of laser-induced nucleation to give precise spatial control over crystal formation in gels (Alexander, JACS 2009), the demonstration that carbon nanoclusters are precursors to the growth of epitaxial graphene (Schaub, Nano Lett. 2011), and the use of femtosecond photoelectron spectroscopy to probe the properties of exotic electronically excited states of fullerenes (ECampbell, PRL 2012).