Ultrafast Chemical Physics
in the city of Glasgow

The Ultrafast Chemical Physics (UCP) grouping in the city of Glasgow was set up by Prof Klaas Wynne and Dr Neil Hunt in 2008 with the aim to support ultrafast femtosecond spectroscopy studies at the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde and beyond. The UCP grouping:

  • Organises international research meetings such as UCP'08 and UCP'11 in collaboration with ultrafast spectroscopist in the UK
  • Shares its equipment which has been funded by EPSRC and others in order to enhance research collaborations with academia and industry

This website describes the UCP group and its collaborators, the facilities available for carrying out femtosecond spectroscopy experiments, and the research meetings the UCP group organises.


11 March 2016: Tommy Harwood successfully defended his thesis today at the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy & Biomedical Sciences (SIPBS). Tommy studied for his PhD under Elizabeth Ellis (SIPBS) and came to work in the UCP labs in 2012 to do terahertz spectroscopy of biomolecules and optical Kerr-effect spectroscopy of small biomolecules, proteins, and DNA. Although he is not officially our PhD student, in practice he did all the spectroscopy experiments under our supervision at Glasgow University. Check out our paper "Terahertz underdamped vibrational motion governs protein-ligand binding in solution" came out in Nature Communications.

November 2015: A £0.5M EPSRC grant “Mapping and controlling nucleation” was awarded to Klaas Wynne and David France in the School of Chemistry at GU.

June 2015: Finlay Walton joined the UCP group at GU, initially as summer project student for summer 2015 and in October 2015 as a PhD student. The summer project involves the study of mosquitos while the PhD project will be on microscopy of phase transitions.

April 2015: UCP group members Chris Syme, Joanna Mosses, and Klaas Wynne win 2nd and 3rd price in College photo competition. See Technical photography competition 2015.

March 2015: Mapping and Controlling (Crystal) Nucleation. Applications are invited for a fully-funded 3.5-year PhD studentship at the University of Glasgow to study the chemical physics of (crystal) nucleation in the Ultrafast Chemical Physics (UCP) group in the School of Chemistry under the supervision of Prof Klaas Wynne. The PhD project involves (laser) microscopy and laser control of the early stages of nucleation in liquids. It involves laser-induced nucleation using powerful lasers and programmable diffractive optics. The new instrument will be used to carry out experiments that range from creating crystals of the desired type to shedding light on the origins of life. We are now looking for a PhD student who is interested in developing new imaging techniques including the use of spatial light modulators and interfacing a microscope with a high power pulsed laser. The ideal candidate for this position is a chemical physicist, physical chemist, or somebody with knowledge of optics or microscopy. The PhD student will be working alongside a team of postdoctoral researchers with experience in ultrafast techniques, chemical physics, and microscopy. More information and application details can be found here.

January 2015: Another exciting imaging paper out for 2015. J. Phys. Chem. Lett. has published our paper Order Parameter of the Liquid–Liquid Transition in a Molecular Liquid in which we use for the first time fluorescene lifetime imaging (FLIM) to study a liquid-liquid phase transition in supercooled triphenyl phosphite.

November 2014: Our paper "Crystal templating through liquid–liquid phase separation" has been published as an Advanced Article in ChemComm. See also The role of liquid-liquid demixing in crystallisation: icy fluff balls.

June 2014: Our paper "Terahertz underdamped vibrational motion governs protein-ligand binding in solution" came out in Nature Communications. The University published a news item Proteins ‘ring like bells’, which was taken up by Science Daily and a bunch of other news outlets. Strangely, it was also picked up by a creationist website who thought it was proof of design. The best write up was on an Austrina siteSpäte Bestätigung für Erwin Schrödinger? For the paper itself see here.

May 2014: Our paper "Stokes-Einstein-Debye Failure in Molecular Orientational Diffusion: Exception or Rule?" finally came out in J .Phys. Chem. B, see http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jp5012457. It truely has the loveliest Kerr-effect/Raman data ever seen.

21 February 2014: Dr Gopakumar (Gopa) Ramakrishna officially started at Research Assistant in the group. Gopa will concentrate on terahertz spectroscopy.

2 December: Today, Dr Mario González Jiménez officially started as a Research Assistant in the group. He'll be working on femtosecond spectroscopy of biomolecules.

1 October 2013: Today, Judith Reichenbach officially started her PhD studies in the group. She'll be working on nucleation using femtosecond spectroscopy.

18-20 September 2013: Faraday Discussion 167 on Mesostructure and Dynamics in Liquids and Solutions was a sucess with a lot of (heated) discussion. The published volume should come out later in the year.


April 2013: Grant success for the UCP grouping. Another EPSRC grant funded on "Solvation dynamics and structure around proteins and peptides: collective network motions or weak interactions"

October 2012: Dr Christopher Syme has started as a research associate in the Glasgow group. He will be using confocal fluorescence microscopy and fluorescence lifetime imaging to study phase transitions in liquids.

27/4/12: PhD studentship available in crystal nucleation at Glasgow University with Klaas Wynne. Involves ultrafast spectroscopy or microscopy (or both!). Now also involves the Doctoral Training Centre associated with the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Continuous Manufacturing and Crystallisation.

18/4/12: Chemical reactions may take hours or days to complete but the underlying molecular motions take place on a femtosecond (1/1,000,000,000,000,000 second) timescale. The latest issue of PCCP (Physical Chemistry and Chemical Physics), the top physical chemistry journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry, is dedicated to such ultrafast chemical dynamics. The special issue was guest edited by Prof Klaas Wynne in the School of Chemistry at Glasgow University and his colleague Dr Neil Hunt at the University of Strathclyde. It is very loosely based on the Ultrafast Chemical Physics conference held in December 2011 and contains articles on topics as diverse as the use of femtosecond x-ray pulses for structure determination, gas phase reaction dynamics, structure in the liquid phase, proteins, etc. Special issue PCCP on Ultrafast Chemical Dynamics.

12/4/12: Glasgow University press release Funding boost for Ultrafast Chemical Physics.

29/3/12: Postdoctoral Research Associate opening.

Research Associate- Ref: 001765 - Salary: Grade 7 £31,948 – £35,938 per annum. A new research associate position is available for 1+2 years to work with Prof Klaas Wynne on an EPSRC-funded project to study the phenomenon of amorphous-to-amorphous liquid-liquid phase transitions. This will involve the use of a new (2012) confocal fluorescence microscope equipped with a thermal sample stage and fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) to study molecular environments in phase-separating pure liquids. The experimental work may also involve Raman microscopy, dynamic/static light scattering, and femtosecond laser spectroscopy. You are expected to carry out microscopy experiments on a range of liquids and to develop basic software tools for the analysis of microscopy images. The ability to work in a multidisciplinary environment with collaborators is essential. The successful candidate will also be expected to contribute to the formulation and submission of research publications and research proposals as well as help manage and direct this complex and challenging project.

The work will be carried out under the guidance of Prof Klaas Wynne in the Ultrafast Chemical Physics group in the School of Chemistry at the University of Glasgow (see http://www.chem.gla.ac.uk/staff/wynne/ and http://www.ultrachemphys.org/). The group has recently (2011) moved into newly refurbished laboratory space where a group of PhD students and postdocs carry out research using state-of-the-art lasers, microscopes, and other equipment.

This position has funding for 12 months in the first instance with an extension to a full 36 months possible. Apply online at www.glasgow.ac.uk/jobs (enter Reference Number 001765). Closing date:  29 April 2012

6/3/12: Grant success for the UCP grouping. The UCP grouping will get a £0.7M EPSRC grant to study the structure and dynamics of water confined in nanoscale pools. The work will be carried out in the ultrafast labs of Klaas Wynne (Glasgow University) and Neil Hunt (University of Strathclyde) and involves collaborations with Professor Fabio Bruni (Roma Tre University), Professor Francesco Mallamace (University of Messina), Professor H Eugene Stanley (Boston University), and Professor Casey Hynes (École Normale Supérieure and University of Colorado).

Asia Mosses, Ben Toulson, Craig Murray, and Klaas Wynne celebrating grant success (photo Malcolm Kadodwala)

29/2/12: New laser can point the way to new energy harvesting. Grant success for UCP collaborator Prof Steve Meech at the University of East Anglia whi received a £0.4M EPSRC grant for a new ultrafast femtosecond laser system.

November 2011: Grant success for Wynne group at Glasgow University. EPSRC announced the funding of a grant to study liquid-liquid transitions usign microscopy methods. The work will be carried out in the ultrafast lab of Klaas Wynne (Glasgow University) and Jan Sefcik (Chemical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde) and involves collaborations with Professor Ken Seddon (Queen's University of Belfast) and Professor H Eugene Stanley (Boston University).

Selected UCP publications



University of Strathclyde

University of Glasgow