Ultrafast Laser Spectroscopy with Photons from the IR to the VUV

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Chemistry

Abstract

Light is essential for life. For example, light is key to photosynthesis and vision. Light is also important in technology, such as in nanoscale optoelectronic devices. Developing a molecular-level understanding of light-induced processes is crucial for the rational design of new light-activated materials to address important challenges currently facing society, such as harnessing solar energy efficiently and developing new tools for disease diagnosis and therapeutics. Our vision is to establish a unique, state-of-the-art, laser facility providing femtosecond light pulses with a wide range of energies, from the infrared (IR) to the vacuum ultraviolet (VUV), housed in a £2M purpose-built, environmentally-controlled, stable basement laboratory. We will exploit this facility to improve our fundamental understanding of light-induced processes by using a bottom-up approach to study systems across the complexity scale, from isolated gas-phase molecules to proteins, nanoparticles, soft materials and solids, for applications ranging from bioimaging and therapeutics to solar energy materials. This will be achieved using a single spectroscopic technique, time-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy, in molecular and ion beams, liquid-microjets and surfaces, complemented by femtosecond transient absorption spectroscopy, femtosecond stimulated Raman spectroscopy and multi-photon microscopy.

Planned Impact

The research enabled by this state-of-the-art laser facility will have direct impact on knowledge generation by transforming our molecular-level understanding of light-induced processes for the rational design of new photonic materials to address important challenges currently facing society, such as harnessing solar energy efficiently and developing new tools for disease diagnosis and therapeutics. The impact on people will arise through the advanced spectroscopy skills developed by those using the facility and the expertise gained from exposure to the broad range of spectroscopy techniques, involvement in multidisciplinary projects, interactions with scientists from a variety of backgrounds and our partners (KM Labs and Coherent). The impact on society will arise from the new science that will underpin innovative diagnostic and therapeutic technologies and new photonic materials for clean energy. The research will have economic impact through the training of skilled researchers and, ultimately, through the development of new photonics technologies. This is particularly important because although the UK photonics industry is worth £13bn and is growing at twice the speed of the rest of the economy, it is only a small fraction of the global market (worth $600bn in 2015).

Publications

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