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Ultrafast Dynamics in Switches and Motors (MEECHSU20SF)

School of Chemistry

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Prof S Meech , Dr G Jones No more applications being accepted Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

A major goal of modern chemistry is the development of nanomolecular machines. It is quite certain that these, like any other machine, will require a source of power and a means of control; they will need molecular motors and molecular switches. In both cases the ideal power source will be light – since it is free, plentiful and can be delivered without recourse to wiring. Consequently, the photochemistry of molecular switches is a major area of research.

In this programme we will investigate the interaction of light with a number of synthetic molecular motors and switches. In many case the absorbed light energy is converted into molecular motion by means of an excited state reaction, often a cis to trans isomerization reaction. These occur on the timescale of picoseconds or faster. We will investigate the nature of these reactions using a number of ultrafast laser experiments designed in our group. These experiments will probe the rate of the reactions and the structural evolution of the molecules during the switching process. The overall objective is to build up a picture of the features that effect the reaction and so enable the design of improved switches.


Project supervisor:
Mode of study: Full time
Start date: October 2020
Entry requirements: First degree (2:1 or above) in Chemistry, Physics or Chemical Physics.

Funding Notes

This PhD project is offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with funding or those applying to funding sources. Details of tuition fees can be found at

A bench fee is also payable on top of the tuition fee to cover specialist equipment or laboratory costs required for the research. Applicants should contact the primary supervisor for further information about the fee associated with the project.


C R. Hall, W. R. Browne, B L. Feringa and S. R. Meech ‘Mapping the Excited State Potential Energy Surface of a Photomolecular Motor’ Angewante Chemie. Int. Ed. 2018 57, 6203-07

C. R. Hall, J. Conyard, I. A. Heisler, G. Jones, J. Frost, W. R. Browne, B. L. Feringa and S. R. Meech ‘Ultrafast Dynamics In Photomolecular Rotors Probed By Femtosecond Stimulated Raman Scattering’ J. Amer. Chem. Soc., 2017, 139, 7408

J. Conyard, P. Stacko, J. Chen, S. McDonagh, C. R. Hall, S. P. Laptenok, W. R. Browne, B.. L. Feringa and S. R. Meech ‘Ultrafast Excited State Dynamics in a Molecular Motor: Coupling of Motor Length to Medium Viscosity’ J. Phys. Chem. A 2017, 121, 2138

J. Conyard, A. Cnossen, W. R. Brown, B. L. Feringa, and S. R. Meech ‘Chemically Optimising Operational Efficiency of Molecular Rotary Motors’ J. Amer. Chem. Soc. 2014, 136, 9692

J. Conyard, K. Addison, I. A. Heisler, A. Cnossen, W. R. Browne, B. L. Feringa and S. R. Meech ‘Ultrafast Dynamics in the Power Stroke of a Molecular Rotary Motor’ Nature Chem. 2012, 4, 574
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