Molecular movies, recorded using the world’s fastest cameras, allow researchers to follow electrons and molecular structure in real time, providing information on how complex molecular systems respond to light.
Such detailed information is vital to the development of many emerging technologies, including materials for photovoltaics, bio-imaging, optogenetics, H2 production, molecular machinery and photocatalysis.
And congratulations are in order to Dr Chris Hall of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science, who has been awarded the Asian Photochemical Association Prize for Young Scientist 2019, as a recognition of his work in photochemistry.
The prize acknowledges significant contributions made to the field by emerging researchers in the Asian region.
A physical chemist specialising in ultrafast electronic and vibrational spectroscopy, Dr Hall has extensive experience characterising excited state interactions in semiconductor nanostructures, proteins and molecular systems.
“The award has been for my application of these techniques to materials which has given us valuable information about how they work,” he said.
With control at the smallest length scales of matter, chemists have the ability to impose control over electronic relaxation pathways and structure in the excited state.
“With information on what happens in the excited state, my research feeds into re-engineering molecular systems to make them more efficient and ultimately even more useful.”
Published in Nature Chemistry, The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, The Journal of American Chemistry Society and Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Dr Hall’s application of femtosecond electronic and vibrational spectroscopy has been conducted with leaders in each of these areas.
As a member of ACEx, Chris is now primarily focusing on characterising fundamental exciton behaviour in the new materials developed in the Centre.
“There are things I’m doing now that I wouldn’t have been able to do outside the Centre,” he said.
“One of the discoveries we made is around being able to image the evolution of defects in perovskites, which is an exciting new material of solar power generation.
“All of these molecular-level processes that you can control with light will absolutely have a role in future technologies. Molecules that are switchable and controllable with light have applications in electronics, like molecular transistors. [Our current work] is just the first step in understanding how molecular transistors could potentially work.”
Dr Hall will collect the award when he delivers a plenary lecture in Seoul, South Korea, in November 2020.