Images of molecular reactions are focus of Centurion’s $2M grant

Nebraska Center for Materials and Nanoscience

Posted October 21, 2019 by Leslie Reed

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded a $2 million grant to Nebraska physicist Martin Centurion to probe nuclear and electronic dynamics in ultrafast ring-conversion molecular reactions.

Centurion, Susan J. Rosowski Associate Professor of physics and astronomy, heads the Ultrafast Dynamics Laboratory. He also is affiliated with the Nebraska Center for Materials and Nanoscience.

His research interests include molecular imaging, ultrafast molecular dynamics, and ultrafast electron diffraction. He holds a doctorate from the California Institute of Technology and completed postdoctoral work at the California Institute of Technology and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics. He has been on the Nebraska faculty since 2009.

His project aims to capture moving images of single molecules in chemical transformations triggered by light. He will focus on molecules with possibilities for industrial chemistry and for solar energy conversion and storage. The project will use multiple experimental approaches and theory to push the frontier of knowledge in this area and develop predictive models for a large class of reactions.

“We have assembled a team of scientists with complementary expertise who will provide different perspectives on the light-driven structural changes in molecules,” he said. “In combination, this will allow us to capture a much more complete picture than currently possible.”

Scientists from Kansas State University, Louisiana State University and Brown University also will participate in the project.