Engineering and Physical Sciences - Graduate School
School of MACS, Heriot-Watt University
The focus of physical chemistry research lies in the interaction of laser radiation, ions and electrons with molecules and surfaces. Fundamental studies of these processes lead to important applications in diverse industrial and environmental fields. The Department has outstanding facilities in this area including a range oftuneable dye, fixed frequency excimer and high power solid state lasers. Much of our work is concerned with preserving the quality of our environment - particularly with the causes of pollution which affect the earth's atmosphere.A range of fundamental spectroscopic techniques, such as laser induced fluorescence and ionisation are being applied to studies of atmospheric reactions. Research programmes investigating the key reactions relevant to depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer i.e. the Antarctic 'ozone hole' are also underway as well as projects on interstellar chemistry. Computational work on ion-molecule reactionsunderpins experimental studies in this area which detailed pathways for ion fragmentation. In a further application, novel mass spectrometric methods are being developed using laser desorption and ionisation to detect large molecules of biological and pharmaceutical interest. Diamond is a material with unique properties. In pioneering research carried out in these laboratories, diamond films are grown using microwave plasmas. Projects underway range from plasma diagnostics to diamond-based biosensors.