Biology has developed highly complex molecular systems that function as photo switches. An important example is found in human vision. The retinal chromophore in the eye absorbs light and isomerizes on a femtosecond time scale. This is the first step in vision that enables us to see the outside world. The isomerization event takes place inside a protein environment. In addition to biology, man made molecules also exist that switch upon absorbing light and can be used in technological applications.
Modeling all degrees of freedom in these systems is impossible, especially because we need to take quantum effects into account. Therefore, we work with approaches that take into account the most important degrees of freedom exactly, while the other degrees of freedom are treated with a simplified model. The presence of these other degrees of freedom leads to effects such as friction and loss of quantum coherence.
In the group we are developing theoretical methods that can be used to model the interaction of light with large molecular systems. An important goal is to use the theory to interpret experiments.
In this project, you will develop a new theory of quantum dynamics to model photo switching in a complex environment. The method will be used to understand state of the art experiments and to develop new technology. The project is suitable for a candidate with a strong background in mathematics and some programming experience.