Ultrafast Spectroscopy in the Elles Group

Chemical reactions are all about making, breaking, and rearranging bonds. That process is relatively straight-forward if you consider only the reactants and products, but what happens during the reaction? In the Elles Group, we seek to answer this question at the molecular scale by studying the dynamics of solution-phase chemical reactions.

Our primary tool is a state-of-the-art ultrafast laser that delivers extremely short ( <35 fs) pulses of light. The laser pulses allow us to watch chemical reactions unfold on the timescale of atomic motion via time-resolved spectroscopy. 

In the simplest case, called pump-probe, one laser pulse excites the sample, then a second, time-delayed probe pulse records changes in the absorption spectrum as the 

Laser Work

system evolves. This transient absorption signal monitorsthe evolution of molecules along the reaction coordinate. 

Ultimately, we can even use what we learn about the reaction dynamics to selectively control the outcome of a chemical reaction!



Elles Group Highlights
  • Chris Otolski wins a Paquette Scholarship at the annual departmental awards banquet.
  • Kristen Burns successfully completes her comprehensive oral exam! Nice work, Kristen!
  • Chris Otolski accepts a postdoc position in the AMO Physics Group at Argonne National Lab. 
  • Click here to watch a video of the Physics Colloquium that Chris gave in February.
  • Read more by clicking here...
Funding Sources