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Ultrafast dynamics of isolated chromophores (BULLJU20SF)

School of Chemistry

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Dr J Bull No more applications being accepted Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

A motivated and enthusiastic student is sought for a PhD in Physical Chemistry/Chemical Physics that will apply ultrafast lasers to understand excited dynamics in molecules of biological and technological importance.

We are developing a state-of-the-art gas-phase chemical physics laboratory that will complement the currently ultrafast (femtosecond) laser spectroscopy facilities at University of East Anglia. This project will assist in the development of instrumentation and apply ultrafast lasers to characterise the spectroscopy and excited state dynamics in chromophore molecules relevant in photobiology, technological photochemistry and photochromic materials. Examples include photoactive protein chromophores, molecular photoswitches that constitute actuators in light-activated materials or molecular machines, and molecules of importance in technological and industrial plasmas, e.g. in semiconductor manufacture. One of the goals will be to compare and contrast excited state dynamics of molecules in isolation, in solvated clusters and in bulk solution. This will provide a detailed understanding of how solvation modifies the inherent photochemical dynamics and provide benchmark data for theoreticians. The overarching, long-term goal of the group will be to develop and apply new laser strategies to achieve coherent control of excited state dynamics.

There are a variety of laser systems available and plans to expand in the future, and also scope to become involved in theoretical and computational modelling aspects. Previous experience in vacuum systems, lasers, spectroscopy or instrument development would be beneficial but not mandatory. All relevant training and guidance for success of the project will be provided.

The group maintains several national and international collaborators who can provide complementary measurements. Successful candidates will be given the opportunity to attend and present at national and international scientific conferences. The student will join an active and friendly research group and will become an expert in laser systems, vacuum systems, instrument development, spectroscopy and data analysis.


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

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.


i) Ultrafast photoisomerisation dynamics of an isolated retinoid, J. N. Bull, C. W. West, C. S. Anstöter, G. da Silva, E. J. Bieske, J. R. R. Verlet, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 21 (2019) 10567-10579
ii) Photoinitiated Intramolecular Proton Transfer in Deprotonated para-Coumaric Acid, J. N. Bull, G. da Silva, M. S. Scholz, E. Carrascosa, E. J. Bieske, J. Phys. Chem. A, 123 (2019) 4419-4430
iii) Observation and ultrafast dynamics of a correlation-bound state of an anion, J. N. Bull, Jan R. R. Verlet, Science Advances, 3 (2017) e1603106
iv) Reversible Photoisomerization of the Isolated Green Fluorescent Protein Chromophore, E. Carrascosa, J. N. Bull, M. S. Scholz, N. J. A. Coughlan, S. Olsen, U. Wille, E. J. Bieske, J. Phys. Chem. Lett., 9 (2018) 2647
v) Photoswitching an isolated donor-acceptor Stenhouse adduct, J. N. Bull, E. Carrascosa, N. Mallo, M. S. Scholz, G. da Silva, J. E. Beves, E. J. Bieske, J. Phys. Chem. Lett., 9 (2018) 665
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