Six new PDRA positions in molecular scattering

Six new postdoctoral research associate positions are available under the New Directions in Molecular Scattering Programme Grant. The PDRAs will join the groups of Prof Matt Costen, Dr Stuart Greaves and Prof Ken McKendrick at HWU, and Prof Mark Brouard, Prof Stuart Mackenzie, and Prof Claire Vallance at OXF. 3 posts are available at each institution, but they will involve close collaboration, including research visits, with investigators at the other institution.

Separate applications should be made for posts to be held at HWU or OXF.
(If you wish to be considered at both institutions, please apply to both. Please indicate in your application if there are specific posts in which you are particularly interested.)

For HWU, Job ref: IRC27164: via at

For OXF, Job ref: 146444: via at

More details of both sets of posts follow below. The deadline for all applications is 1 July 2020. Informal enquiries can be made to any of the investigators (contact details via the links in the Research section of this website). General enquiries about this Programme Grant should be directed to the PI, Prof Ken McKendrick, at

The three posts in Oxford will span the following research areas:
Post 1 OXF: Scattering to benchmark fundamental theoryWe currently have the ability to study collisions of NO(X) radicals with a partner atom or molecule, with complete initial and final state selection and as a function of the bond orientation of the NO reactant.  This project will extend these studies to larger and more complex systems, ranging from NO + diatomic molecules to NO + larger molecules with selected molecular conformers.  A key goal will be to investigate and understand steric effects in these larger systems through direct control of the reaction geometry.
Post 2 OXF:  Reactive scattering for catalysisThe development of new heterogeneous catalysts at present depends largely on empirical trial and error.  Scattering experiments performed in the gas¬-phase on model clusters offer the opportunity to uncover underlying reaction mechanisms and key active sites, opening the way to a more structured approach to catalyst design. This project will involve development of new molecular beam instruments to study mode-selective chemistry of small molecules with transition metal clusters and metal ligand complexes. Reactivity will be studied as a function of cluster size, charge, and composition and collision energy, with mass spectrometric detection.
Post 3 OXF: Electron-molecule scatteringElectron-molecule collisions are relevant to important phenomena spanning natural and man-made plasmas, mass spectrometry, and radiation damage to DNA and other biomolecules.  Electron-molecule crossed-beam experiments with velocity-map imaging detection allow the dynamics of these processes to be studied in unprecedented detail, revealing in particular the energy partitioning amongst the various scattering products.  We plan initially to focus attention on interaction of electrons with two categories of molecule: (i) DNA and other biomolecules, via studies on a number of small-molecule models; and (ii) polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are of key importance in astrochemistry and combustion.

The three posts at HWU will span the following research areas:
Post 1 HWU: Scattering to benchmark fundamental theoryWe will extend state-of-the-art experiments using crossed molecular beams, direct optical excitation and velocity-map imaging detection to the study of inelastic collisions and electronic quenching in small radicals. Specifically, we will investigate collisions of NO(A) with small molecular partners relevant to the atmosphere and combustion. We aim to put the understanding of bimolecular non-adiabatic interactions via conical intersections on a similar standing to internal conversion in unimolecular processes. Interpretation of the measurements will be supported by state-of-the-art multi-reference electronic structure calculations and surface-hopping dynamics simulations by other members of the Programme, and through quantum scattering calculations on potential-energy surfaces by the postholder in conjunction with external collaborators.
Posts 2 and 3 HWU:  Scattering for the atmosphereThe chemistry of the atmosphere is driven by reactions of radicals with stable molecules, both in the homogeneous gas phase and at the gas-liquid interface. We will study these processes in linked experiments based on molecular-beam scattering and advanced forms of optical detection.In the gas phase, OH-initiated reactions with volatile organic compounds are a prime example of the complexity of reactions in which different products are formed via competing mechanisms. We will test the hypothesis that the anomalous low-temperature behaviour of their rate constants is the result of capture in an H-bonded well followed by tunnelling. We will build a new, variable-angle crossed-beam experiment to measure product-state-specific differential cross sections correlated with the internal energy of the unobserved co-fragment, providing an exceptionally powerful mechanistic probe.Crucial reactions also take place at the surfaces of atmospheric aerosol particles, ‘ageing’ adsorbed organic species with important climatic consequences. We will study collisions of the important oxidants OH and Cl with representative proxy liquids, using complementary techniques exploiting our recent advances in either real-space LIF imaging, REMPI-VMI measurements, or mid-IR frequency-modulated spectroscopy. Mechanistic interpretation will be enhanced through molecular dynamics simulations of the liquid surfaces and, with external collaborators, ab initio molecular dynamics scattering calculations.