Research Guides

Professor Stuart Mackenzie

Our research is characterised by the development of novel optical spectroscopy techniques to provide new insights into important scientific problems ranging from fundamental interactions in catalysis to magnetosensing in animals. We work in both the gas phase (in molecular / cluster beams) and the condensed phase and  all our work involves healthy mixture of experiment and theory / computation. Much of the group's research is highly interdisciplinary and we have successful collaborations with several other internationally-leading research groups both within the UK and overseas. For more details on the group activities, along with opportunities to join please see the research group website which includes a full list of group publications.

I. Structure and reactivity of small gas-phase metal and metal-ligand clusters

Small clusters of atoms – particularly those of transition metal atoms – exhibit many remarkable size-dependent physical properties which can be quite unlike those of either isolated atoms or the bulk metal.  Understanding the evolution of these properties with cluster size and composition is key to understanding nanoparticle chemistry. In particular, little is known of the complex and subtle relationship between structure - both electronic and geometrical - and reactivity towards small molecules. We employ a diverse range of experimental techiniques including infrared photodissociation and velocity map imaging to probe key interactions as a function of cluster size and isomeric form.



 II. Optical cavity-based spectroscopy in the condensed phase

Cavity-based optical techniques such as cavity ring-down and cavity enhanced absorption spectroscopy have revolutionised sensitive gas-phase trace detection. Extension  to the condensed phase has been comparatively slow but we have developed a range of condensed phase variants of both techniques in order to study dynamical photochemical and interfacial phenomena.

In particular, we collaborate with Professors Peter Hore and Chris Timmel in applying these sensitive detection methods to the study of the dynamics of photo-generated spin-correlated radical pairs within blue-light receptor proteins called cryptochromes. It is believed that such dynamics, and in particular their sensitivity to external magnetic fields, may lie at the heart of the ability of many animals to sense the Earth's magnetic field.

Gas-phase clusters

Free electron laser infrared action spectroscopy of nitrous oxide binding to platinum clusters, Ptn(N2O)+
Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 22, 18606-18613 (2020)

Infrared Study of OCS Binding and Size-Selective Reactivity with Gold Clusters, Aun+ (n = 1–10)
J. Phys.Chem. A, 124, 5389-5401 (2020)

Photodissociation Dynamics and the Dissociation Energy of Vanadium Monoxide, VO, Investigated using Velocity Map Imaging
Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 21, 15560-15567 (2019)

Structural isomers and electronic states of gas-phase M+(N2O)n (M=Co, Rh, Ir) ion-molecule complexes
Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 21, 13959-13967 (2019)

IR Signature of Size–Selective CO2 Activation on Small Platinum Cluster Anions, Ptn (n = 4–7)
Angew. Chemie - Int Ed., 57, 14822 (2018)

Time resolved inner-shell photoelectron spectroscopy of UV-induced photodissociation of CH3I
Phys. Rev. A, 97, 043429 (2018)


Magnetic Field Effects / Cavity-based spectroscopy

Detection of Magnetic field Effects by Confocal Microscopy
Chemical Science, 30, 7772-7781 (2020)

Chemical compass behaviour at microtesla magnetic fields strengthens radical pair hypothesis of avian magnetoreception 
Nature Comm., 10, 3707 (2019)

Magnetically sensitive radical photochemistry of non-natural flavoproteins
J. Am. Chem. Soc., 140, 8705, 2018

Millitesla magnetic field effects on the photocycle of an animal cryptochrome
Nature Sci. Rep. 7, 42228, 2017



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