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Ultrafast Surface Photochemistry
The ultimate goal of any branch of chemistry, including surface chemistry, is to understand reactions at a fundamental level. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to both observe the reaction on an atomic length scale, and also to monitor the reaction on the same time scale as bond breaking and making - the femtosecond timescale. With the advent of scanning probe microscopy, the observation of surface reactions at the atomic length scale has become almost routine. However, observing the dynamics of surface reactions with femtosecond accuracy still remains a considerable challenge. In collaboration with Prof. Helen Fielding, we have built a new experiment to investigate the detailed dynamics of surface processes, by using state-of-the-art femtosecond pump-probe techniques to monitor reactions in real time. We also intend to investigate the possibility, long discussed theoretically but not yet achieved experimentally, of using shaped femtosecond laser pulses to control surface photochemistry.
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