Nikola Zotev

Project Title: Quantum Molecular Dynamics of Photochemical Reactions: Connecting Theory and Experiments

Photochemical processes are chemical reactions that are triggered by light, e.g. sunlight, flashlight or a powerful laser. Such reactions are necessary for the detection of light by living organisms, the ability of plants to absorb energy from the sun, and for the synthesis of vitamin D in human skin. Photochemical reactions also have a wide range of novel applications in areas such as communication, electronics, and energy capture and storage. Despite their importance to life and our society, the details of how individual molecules move during photochemical processes are not well known. This is so because photochemistry happens really fast – so fast that it is hard to observe and study. Also, photochemical motion is the realm of quantum mechanics, where the everyday laws of physics are no longer valid.

Nikola’s PhD project aims to develop a computational approach to simulate the quantum nature of photochemical motion. His work is closely related to the interpretation and analysis of time-resolved X-ray diffraction experiments using free-electron lasers.

Awarded: Carnegie PhD Scholarship

Field: Chemistry

University: University of Edinburgh

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