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Department of Chemistry Dr. Bogdan Dereka

Molecular Photochemistry and Photophysics in Solution and at the Interface

We are seeking molecular level description of the basic steps of chemical reactions as they are happening in real time in bulk solution and at the solid-liquid interface. Interphase, especially the first nanometer from the surface, is very different from bulk liquid or solid phases that it separates. The molecules are confined, the forces are anisotropic, the electric double layer forms, interfacial solvent rearranges itself and its properties can be very different than in bulk. As a result, chemical dynamics and outcomes in these circumstances may vary dramatically. The ultimate goal is to reveal the interfacial composition, orientational and cooperative effects responsible for the special properties of interfaces and visualize these processes as they are happening in real time with the atomistic detail on the timescale of the fastest molecular motions. The challenge is that the structures are highly dynamic during the course of physical and chemical processes.

Using the tools of ultrafast laser spectroscopy we are trying to answer the questions such as: How different are various properties of liquids (e.g., water, organic solvents) in the immediate vicinity of the interface? How different is the chemical reactivity of small organic molecules within the first nanometer from the buried interface? Can these reactions be manipulated by applying specific external stimuli? We are investigating new molecular infrared probes of the immediate chemical environment, non-conventional types of catalysis in chemical transformations, and new laser-based ways to push a reaction into a certain direction or shut it down.

We are always looking for motivated Bachelor and Master students to join our research efforts. We also currently have a fully funded position for a PhD Student and are on a lookout for an excellent Postdoctoral Scholar. The interested candidates for all the positions should get in touch with Bogdan.