two people in dark room with green light reflecting on their faces

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.

Diagram explaining research process - Pump, probe, delay, spectrograph

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 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!

laser beam in an optical experiment

See our latest group poster

Elles Group Poster