ScotCHEM lecture - Probing Ultrafast Chemical Dynamics Inspired by the Rhythms of Fireflies


ScotCHEM lecture - Probing Ultrafast Chemical Dynamics Inspired by the Rhythms of Fireflies

Thu, 14/02/2019 - 11:15 to 12:15


Prof Gregory Scholes
Princeton University

Coherence phenomena arise from interference, or the addition, of wave-like amplitudes in phase [1]. While coherence has been shown to yield transformative new ways for improving function, advances have been limited to pristine matter, as quantum coherence is considered fragile. Here I will discuss how vibrational and vibronic wavepackets entrain ensembles of molecules, like the synchronized flashing of fireflies. I will discuss how this can be used to probe mechanisms of ultrafast dynamics and how in-step vibrational motion might be employed to control function on ultrafast timescales. I will give examples that include light-harvesting in photosynthesis, energy flow in organometallic molecules that is ‘wired’ by Fermi resonance, and ultrafast electron transfer in molecular systems.

[1] Scholes, et al. “Optimal Coherence in Chemical and Biophysical Dynamics” Nature 543, 647–656 (2017).


Greg Scholes is the William S. Tod Professor of Chemistry at Princeton University. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, he later undertook postdoctoral training at Imperial College London and University of California Berkeley. He started his independent career at the University of Toronto (2000-2014) where he was the D.J. LeRoy Distinguished Professor. Dr. Scholes is the Deputy Editor for the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a Senior Fellow in the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research program Biology, Energy, Technology, and a Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne. Dr. Scholes directs the Energy Frontier Research Center BioLEC. He has had a long-standing interest in mechanisms of electronic energy transfer and the photophysics of molecular excitons. His current research focuses on seeking molecular-scale function from coherence and working out how vibrational wavepackets can report on mechanism of ultrafast processes.