Transforming strong bonds: Orbital-specific x-ay spectroscopy will tell us how to

The Swedish Research Council reached a decision on October 31, 2019 on project grants and starting grants for Natural and Engineering Sciences. The Department of Physics and Astronomy is granted 40 840 000 SEK for the period 2020-2023 for in total nine project grants and three starting grants. The projects will begin during 2020.

Project description

Project title: Transforming strong bonds: Orbital-specific x-ay spectroscopy will tell us how to
Main applicant: Philippe Wernet, Division of Molecular and Condensed Matter Physics
Grant amount: 2 960 000 SEK for the period 2020-2023
Funder: Project grant from the Swedish Research Council

This project aims at understanding photochemical C-H bond activation with metal complexes. The idea is to use various time-resolved x-ray spectroscopic methods to detect and characterize at an unprecedented level of detail short-lived intermediates where a photo-activated metal complex weakly binds an organic molecule. For this we want to probe the system all the way from the initial femtosecond excited-state dynamics to the slower dynamics in solution. The proposed research will remove the information gap due to hitherto missing probes and validate fundamental chemical concepts of frontier-orbital interactions in short-lived metal-alkane complexes. The resulting mechanistic understanding will build the basis for a rational design of future photocatalysts for C-H activation. Ultimately, this will help developing new concepts and strategies for making accessible cheap chemical energy in low-cost feedstocks for chemical industry by providing more reactive compounds. The unique combination of methods and concepts in our project from atomic, molecular and chemical physics is ideally suited for a PhD student to be trained in and to contribute to a highly disciplinary research area using state-of-the-art short pulse x-ray sources including the new superconducting LCLS-II x-ray free-electron laser in Stanford that will offer unprecedented peak brilliance and average flux. This new PhD student will be incorporated in our newly built group at Uppsala University.