Department of Chemistry,
University College London,
T: +44 (0)20 7679 1003
Physical Chemistry and Chemical Physics
Section Head: Dr Daren Caruana
Modern physical chemistry and chemical physics (PCCP) are characterized by technological advances at the extremes of measurement. The UCL PCCP group are at the forefront of such advances, developing experiments to probe the chemical and physical properties of molecules and solids in unprecedented detail. Rated as achieving international excellence in the 2001 research assessment exercise, the group has recently expanded to cover macroscopic and microscopic studies of all three phases of matter and is performing pioneering experiments to probe chemistry on a variety of different scales.
Below is a brief overview of the research interests of the members of the PCCP group. Many of the research groups collaborate extensively with each other and with academics from other subject groupings.
Molecules deposited on surfaces can organise themselves into ordered and even complex structures based on intermolecular interactions. This is a process known as two-dimensional supramolecular self-assembly. A variety of Scanning probe microscopy techniques combined with optical spectroscopy can be used to visualise these molecular networks as well as mapping their chemical and optical properties with nanoscale resolution.The main objectives of this work are to understand how the design of the individual molecular building blocks and the environmental conditions under which self-assembly takes place can be used to control the structures that are formed. These structures will then be used as templates for organising more complex components such as nanoparticles or fluorescent sensor molecules. Being able to accurately control the position of components, especially nanoparticles, in complex 2D structures will open up exciting new possibilities in areas of nanotechnology such as sensors, organic photovoltaic materials and molecular electronics.
We are interested in studying adsorption, desorption and reaction processes which take place on a range of different surfaces. Our current experiments range from investigations of the adsorption, formation and processing of interstellar ices on cosmic dust grains to studies of catalytic reactions on metal surfaces on an ultra-fast timescale using laser spectroscopic techniques.
Daren Caruana - Gas Phase Electrochemistry
The presence of ions in plasmas presents a realistic prospect for performing and controlling redox reactions at a solid/gas interface. The focus of this work is to apply the well-established underlying principles of liquid and solid phase electrochemistry to the gas phase. The eventual aim of this work is to develop voltammetry in a gaseous electrolyte which will open up many applications such as electroanalysis, electrodeposition and electrocatalysis in the gas phase.
Our work involves using nanosecond and femtosecond lasers to investigate the spectroscopy and dynamics of excited states. Current applications include organic photochemistry, biological chromophores, photodynamic therapy and surface photochemistry.
We employ a variety of spectroscopic techniques including femtosecond pump-probe photoelectron imaging, nanosecond photodetachment spectroscopy, fluorescence lifetime and singlet oxygen measurements, and femtosecond laser induced desorption. In addition, we use computational chemistry to carry out electronic structure calculations to aid the interpretation of our experimental measurements.
Cyrus Hirjibehedin - Atomic-scale studies of quantum nanostructures
My group's research focuses on understanding the electronic and magnetic properties of nanoscale structures and exploring how they might be used to make the smallest possible devices for information processing, data storage, and sensing. The primary tools that we use are low-temperature scanning tunneling microscopes. These state-of-the art instruments allow us to image individual atoms and molecules on surfaces; probe their structural, electronic, and magnetic properties; and even arrange them into new configurations.
You can find out more by visiting the Hirjibehedin Research Group.
Katherine Holt - Electrochemistry, Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy (SECM) and Bioelectrochemistry
Research interests include the study of respiratory chain function of bacteria and mitochondria; development of boron-doped diamond microelectrodes; understanding the redox properties of diamond nanoparticles and investigation of catalytic properties of biomimetic clusters for application in future energy technologies.
Stephen Price - Chemistry of Highly-Excited Species
We are interested in developing experimental techniques to study the formation, properties and reactivity of atoms and molecules which posses considerable internal energy. This energy is usually electronic, vibrational or both. The targets of our experiments range from revealing the reactivity of molecular dications, which is of relevance in planetary ionospheres, to studying the formation of vibrationally excited H2 on interstellar dust grains.
Our research focusses on the laboratory study of gas phase kinetics and photochemistry of trace species including atoms, free radicals and weakly bound molecules. The work is targeted at understanding the role that such species play in the Earth's atmosphere, particularly with regard to environmental issues such as stratospheric ozone loss, urban smog formation, and global warming.
Christoph Salzmann - New materials
We are interested in making new materials, their structural characterisation and
chemical properties. Our aim is to make contributions to fundamental research
but to also to keep an eye on potential future applications and technologies.
Current research projects are concerned with graphene, carbon nanotubes,
high-pressure phases of simple molecules as well as with amorphous materials and
liquids. We make use of a wide range of techniques including neutron and X-ray
diffraction, Raman, FTIR, fluorescence and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy,
differential scanning calorimetry and atomic force microscopy.
Salzmann research group homepage
Christoph Salzmann's staff profile page
Our research focuses on the nanoscience and surface science of metal oxides, which play a crucial role in technologies such as catalysis and molecular electronics. The targets of our experiments include developing single molecule spectroscopy on oxide surfaces, imaging single molecule chemistry, and nanofabrication of functional devices. This work employs a suite of scanning probe microscopes, spectrometers, and diffractometers in London together with synchrotron radiation techniques at the Diamond Light Source and ESRF, Grenoble.
Magnetism has always challenged accepted scientific understanding, demonstrating the presence of new physical properties and couplings.
The Wills group maintains a separate website where more detailed information about research highlights can be found: