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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/W006340/1
Title: North East Ultrafast Transient Absorption Spectroscopy Facility
Principal Investigator: Gibson, Dr EA
Other Investigators:
Cole, Dr D Healy, Professor N Cucinotta, Dr F
Freitag, Dr M
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Ultrafast Systems LLC
Department: Sch of Natural & Environmental Sciences
Organisation: Newcastle University
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 September 2021 Ends: 31 August 2023 Value (£): 902,433
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Biological & Medicinal Chem. Materials Characterisation
Physical Organic Chemistry Solar Technology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Energy Healthcare
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
05 Jul 2021 EPSRC Strategic Equipment Interview Panel July 2021 - Panel 1 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
This unique national facility for ultrafast transient absorption spectroscopy (and microscopy) aims to fulfil a strategically and critically important research infrastructure gap in the North East.

Transient absorption spectroscopy is a key tool that enables scientists to probe the identity, formation and fate of short-lived, energetic species formed on excitation with light (e.g. from a laser). Once a molecule or material has absorbed light, there are a number of possible pathways it could follow, including re-emission, thermal relaxation, energy or electron transfer and a chemical reaction (including decomposition). Probing with broad-band UV-NIR light at various time delays after excitation enables difference spectra to be captured, providing information on the electronic excited states (which have distinct absorption spectra from the ground state) and their lifetime (which depends on the electronic state and fate of the excited species). These processes occur over a range of timescales, mostly ranging from femtoseconds to microseconds for energy or charge-transfer and chemical reactivity. The information is vital across chemistry, physics, biology and engineering. Transient absorption spectroscopy is a vital tool for fundamental understanding of processes such as energy harvesting in photosynthetic organisms, multi-exciton generation semiconductor quantum dots and charge-recombination in printable photovoltaics.

The Helios-EOS Fire Transient Absorption Spectrometer will give us access to the entire timescale of physical phenomena that take place during chemical reactions and light-induced processes more broadly. This will foster and open new research areas, stimulating collaborations with groups working in physics, chemical/synthetic biology and engineering, and will make spectroscopy capabilities in the North East internationally competitive. With the broad temporal and spectral window, together with microscope extension and Newcastle University expertise of operando experiments, it will provide critical knowledge required to address the scientific challenges preventing commercialisation of novel optoelectronic devices (stability, conversion efficiency etc.). The national facility will reduce the need to depend on international collaborators, increasing the capacity and ambition of the research, and strengthens the North East region's capacity to provide for spectroscopists and materials scientists.

The multidisciplinary science enabled by the national facility underpins all four EPSRC Prosperity Outcomes and the four Industrial Strategy Grand Challenges. It will support the development of light-responsive molecules and materials for sensors and communication devices that transmit or are powered by light for applications in AI and the Data Driven Economy. The facility will provide information on charge-separation, accumulation and recombination in solar cells and artificial photosynthetic devices for sustainable fuels and feedstocks for Clean Growth and Future Mobility (such as green power and hydrogen for transport). It will address innovation for the Ageing Society by supporting the design of new phototherapies or diagnostic tools such as bioimaging.

These grand challenges align with the research pillars at Newcastle University and the surrounding institutions, and a facility situated in the North East will support regional, national and international collaboration to accelerate discoveries and innovation in these societally important areas. It will also support blue-skies research in light-matter interactions from atoms to systems that will have long-term impact in future innovation.

Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.ncl.ac.uk