Nikola Zotev

Chemistry, University of Edinburgh

Tenure since 2016

Quantum Molecular Dynamics of Photochemical Reactions: Connecting Theory and Experiments

Nikola's research is concerned with the development of theoretical and computational methods to describe the dynamics of nuclei and electrons during photochemical reactions.Nikola Zotev

Photochemical processes are chemical reactions that are initiated by the absorption of light. 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, the time evolution of photochemical processes is not well understood, as it happens on an extremely short time-scale that is hard to observe and study.

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


In 2016 Nikola graduated from the University of Edinburgh, being at the top of his (MChemPhys) Chemical Physics class. During his studies there he was awarded the Edinburgh University Science and Engineering College Vacation Scholarship (2014) and the EPSRC Undergraduate Vacation Scholarship (2015) for his work as a part of the Kirrander group, who he later decided to join for his PhD project. He spent his industrial placement year working on the physical chemistry of liquid detergents at Procter&Gamble in Newcastle upon Tyne.