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Leverhulme Fellowship in Chemistry

Professor Mike Ashfold

Professor Mike Ashfold

29 July 2011

Professor Mike Ashfold of the School of Chemistry has been awarded a one-year Royal Society Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship that will enable him to re-immerse himself more fully in three areas of laser-based chemistry.

Area 1 centres on exploring the extent to which knowledge of molecular photochemistry and photophysics derived from detailed studies in the gas phase can guide our understanding of photo-initiated processes in solution - the phase that hosts much of the photochemistry of greatest everyday importance. This is a major research theme within the joint Bristol-Oxford EPSRC Programme Grant, and will involve extensive collaboration with fellow Programme Grant members Professors Orr-Ewing, Harvey and Manby in Bristol, staff at the Central Laser Facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and colleagues at the University of Southern California.

Professor Ashfold’s group also uses lasers to diagnose plasmas used to grow films of diamond by chemical vapour deposition. Combining such experimental data with high-level plasma and gas-surface chemistry modelling (with a colleague at Moscow State University) can provide uniquely detailed mechanistic insights into how gas phase carbon species transform into diamond. Theme 2 of the Fellowship is to extend such studies to novel alternative gas mixtures that could enable diamond growth with improved atom and energy efficiencies. 

Ashfold’s team also explores methods whereby gas phase species resulting from the pulsed laser ablation of a solid target of, for example, zinc oxide can deposit on a distant substrate in the form of an extended array of ultra-thin, single crystal nanorods. Theme 3 seeks to explore what determines and controls nanorod growth from an ablation plume, to identify applications for such arrays (which present huge surface areas and suggest a range of – yet to be realised – sensing opportunities), and to explore the extent to which this behaviour extends to other materials.

A fuller description of the activities of the Bristol Laser Chemistry Group is available online.

The Royal Society Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship scheme is for scientists who would benefit from a period of full-time research without teaching and administrative duties for a period of up to one year. Around seven such Fellowships are offered each year.

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