Philippe Wernet, photon science specialising in molecular and condensed matter physics

My research is based on the question of how sunlight can supply the earth with energy. Sunlight can be converted in various ways into numerous types of useful energy, including photovoltaics, which transforms light into electricity. I have enhanced my research on the processes that convert sunlight into chemical energy. Photosynthesis is an example from nature of how sunlight along with water and carbon dioxide can be converted into oxygen and energy-rich carbohydrates. When processes using visible light to create new molecules in nature and in industry are examined in close-ups at the atomic level, we often find that metal atoms are involved. The metal atoms often are linked to molecules in strange and unusual ways. I want to understand these compositions of metal atoms and molecules and learn how to form new ways of creating molecules. To do this, I develop and use new methods that enable sequential imaging of bonds on atomically relevant scales: Ångström and femtoseconds. Understanding these unusual configurations can give rise to new designs of catalytic materials and create the potential for new ideas regarding efficient conversion of photon energy to chemical energy.