I studied Physics Engineering at Politecnico di Milano (Milano, Italy), where I earned a bachelor’s degree followed by a master’s degree. Both of them consisted mainly of solid state physics classes, with a particular focus on semiconductors (for electronics and photonics application) and magnetic nanostructures. My first experience in research was at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (Grenoble, France), where I spent 10 months working as a trainee for my master thesis project.
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The aim of the studentship is to develop expertise in fast time-resolved XAFS spectroscopy in the UK. We will exploit our breakthrough to characterise and elucidate the bonding of small molecules (Xe and alkanes) and to monitor and unravel key catalytic mechanisms, particularly C-H activation. This application benefits from our current EPSRC grant, PORTO - a PORtable femTOsecond pump laser (190 fs pulse pump duration and mid-infrared QCL probes) - which is currently being established at the Harwell site for two purposes. Firstly, it will provide a test-bed for ultra-fast measurements of photoactivated changes in chemical systems in condensed phases to optimize the design of experiments to determine structure-activity relationships using time-resolved X-ray spectroscopy and experiments on the ULTRA suite at CLF for ps and fs spectroscopy. Secondly, due to its portability, it will allow transfer to Diamond beamlines for performing the laser pump/X-ray probe experiments in XAFS.
You will develop capabilities to "watch chemistry happen" on timescales from picoseconds to milliseconds using time-resolved spectroscopy and XAFS, and perform DFT calculations on structure and bonding of intermediates as well as the time-resolved XAFS spectra. This will allow new insight into the characterisation and bonding of complexes and in this project, you will examine weakly coordinating metal-alkane and metal-Xe complexes. You will also use this new approach for the elucidation of catalytic mechanisms particularly the C-H activation of alkanes.
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