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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/N010825/1
Title: Ultrafast Spectroscopy of Advanced Materials at the University of Warwick
Principal Investigator: Lloyd-Hughes, Professor J
Other Investigators:
Stavros, Professor V
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Dr M Staniforth
Project Partners:
Newport Spectra Physics Limited
Department: Physics
Organisation: University of Warwick
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 01 January 2016 Ends: 01 December 2017 Value (£): 204,437
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Analytical Science Catalysis & Applied Catalysis
Light-Matter Interactions Materials Processing
Optoelect. Devices & Circuits
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
17 Jun 2015 EPSRC Strategic Equipment Panel Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Structure-function relationships are commonplace, none more so than in biology: for example an enzyme binds to a substrate to catalyze a reaction. The added dimensionality of dynamics offers a more complete structure-dynamics-function (SDF) relationship, which provides unprecedented insight, at the molecular level, of why certain photochemical processes dominate over others. Once again in biology, this is best exemplified by human vision, which, at the molecular level, involves a structural change of the retinal chromophore, following absorption of light, in a few hundred femtoseconds (1 fs=1x10-15 s).

Transferring the idea of SDF relationships into a range of advanced materials offers tremendous scope towards enhancing their functionality. It is with this idea in mind that we propose to develop a multi-user ultrafast spectroscopy facility, enabling one to study the consequences of light interacting with advanced materials on very short timescales and thus establishing rigorous SDF relationships. The research that will be facilitated is broadly grouped into four themes: Quantum Materials; Lasers and Medicine; Photostability; and Semiconductors. However, substantial cross-cutting links exist between the themes, and progress in one area will stimulate another - for example understanding the photostability of life's building blocks will lend support towards improving organic semiconductor photovoltaics - thus providing a sum that is greater than the individual parts.

The proposed facility consists of five laser beamlines, which will enable users with different requirements to carry out ultrafast spectroscopy experiments independently and simultaneously at wavelengths across the electromagnetic spectrum, from terahertz (THz) to X-ray radiation, all in a single laser laboratory. This is a one-of-a-kind capability, and the vision of the investigators is to exploit this facility to foster cross-disciplinary research, enabling chemists, physicists, engineers and life scientists over the course of many years to work together to achieve major scientific breakthroughs. Importantly, the facility will be hosted in the new Materials and Analytical Sciences building at the University of Warwick, which was set up by the Departments of Chemistry and Physics specifically to promote such cross-disciplinary research. The broad user base identified includes 21 groups at the University of Warwick and over 10 national and international research teams, which the investigators hope to expand in years to come.

The targeted research across these themes has the potential to make transformative contributions to a number of EPSRC grand challenges, including (i) Dial-a-molecule, (ii) Emergence and Physics Far From Equilibrium, (iii) Nanoscale Design of Functional Materials, and (iv) Understanding the Physics of Life. For instance, the high-field THz capability will provide access to extreme non-equilibrium physics in spintronic and multiferroic compounds, as well as permitting functional optoelectronic nanomaterials to be designed and characterised. Likewise, garnering a molecular level understanding of photoprotection of the building blocks of lignin will bring new insight into photodegradation processes in the naturally occurring lignin polymer, which may then inform those working on transforming biomass carbon content into bio-ethanol or chemical feedstock. Importantly, whilst the latter work contributes to Understanding the Physics of Life, it also has the potential to create a healthy synergy with the EPSRC's neighbouring Energy theme, specifically Bioenergy. Such synergies feature widely in the cross-disciplinary research proposed, which will inevitably lead to extensive economic and societal impact that will be accelerated by the pathways to impact proposed.
Key Findings
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Date Materialised
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Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.warwick.ac.uk