Tag Archives: erc

Birth of the ultrafast chemistry: Attochemistry

Spanish and Italian scientists have laid down the foundations of a new scientific discipline that pursues to control the movement of electrons in molecules using attosecond methodologies and may open the door to a new way of doing chemistry.

Figure. Evolution of the charge density induced by an attosecond pulse on the aminoacid phenylalanine (purple: charge excess; yellow: charge default).

Source: UAM Gazette (July 6, 2017)

An article published in the journal Chemical Reviews, led by Fernando Martín (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, IMDEA Nanoscience, IFIMAC Condensed Matter Center) and by Mauro Nisoli (Polytenico de Milano) details the bases and the most important milestones of a new scientific discipline: attochemistry.

Editor: Kathy/Gloria JEM: Diane
RTP: Rebecca Horseman

In general, this discipline seeks to control and manipulate the movement of electrons that form chemical bonds in molecules, using attosecond light pulses (1 attosecond is equivalent to 10-18 seconds). According to the authors, since the structure and reactivity of matter arises from the properties of chemical bonds, attochemistry may enable new reactions and have a direct impact on the development of new substances and materials, making possible a better understanding of the electronic processes that occur in chemical and biological systems.

The study documents the first real-time observation of charge migration processes on molecules of biological interest (as the amino acid phenylalanine, see figure 1), with unprecedented temporal resolution. It also shows the first signs of control of charge migration processes. These observations were made by first irradiating the molecules with a pulse (or pulses) of attosecond light, followed by a second pulse of equal or greater duration, which captures an image of the electronic motion at a particular instant. The variation of the elapsed time between the first and second pulses provides a sequence of images of the electronic motion, which allows the selection of the precise instant in which the localization of the charge may favour (or prevent) a certain chemical reaction .

From femtochemistry to attochemistry

 Chemical reactions are the result of bond-formation and bond-breakage and, during this process, atoms in molecules may arrange to form a new substance. Reactivity, the essence of chemistry, is a dynamic process that results from the movement of electrons and atomic nuclei. These movements occur in an ultrafast time scale, ranging from femtoseconds (10-15 seconds), typical of nuclear movement, to attoseconds, typical of electronic movement.

In this sense, all the chemistry could be understood as femtochemistry or attochemistry. Femtochemistry, born in the second half of the last century, is now a well-established scientific discipline whose main objective is to control a chemical reaction by directing the movement of the nuclei of the involved molecules using femtosecond pulses of light. Today, femtosecond lasers are widely used in most areas of the chemical sciences and in many laboratories.

The 21st century has brought remarkable advances in the manufacture of coherent light sources that allow the generation of even shorter pulses of light, with durations that reach the few tens of attoseconds, in the extreme ultraviolet frequency region.

These advances have led to a substantial evolution of laser technology in recent years, enabling for the first time a direct control of the ultra-rapid movement of electrons within a molecule and, consequently, the nuclear dynamics induced by such electronic movement, which occurs at longer time scales.

Since the distribution of electrons in the molecule, or electronic density, is ultimately responsible for the formation and breaking of bonds, the control of this movement has opened the door to a new way of doing chemistry.

This research has received funds from the European Research Council, under the ERC Advanced Grant nº 290853, and the principal investigator of this project, Fernando Martín, has been awarded with the prize King Jaime I 2017, in the category of Basic Research.


Reference: Attosecond electron dynamics in molecules. M. Nisoli, P. Decleva, F. Calegari, A. Palacios and F. Martín, Chem. Rev., 2017, 117 (16), pp 10760–10825,  DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemrev.6b00453





Share in Facebook
Posted in News | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Fernando Martín, King Jaime I Prize in Basic Research

Fernando Martín, Full Professor at the Chemistry Department of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and researcher at IMDEA-Nanociencia and IFIMAC Condensed Matter Physics Center, has been awarded the King Jaime I Prize in Basic Research in its 2017 edition. The jury has recognized his role in the establishment of the theoretical foundations of attochemistry. This emerging scientific field aims at observing and manipulating the electronic motion in atoms and molecules in their natural time scale, the attosecond (10-18 seconds), so as to control the chemical properties of substances and modify their natural behaviour. Although the first steps in this new scientific field date back only a decade ago, it is expected to become a multidisciplinary tool with numerous applications in chemistry, physics or biology, for example, to control the evolution of a chemical reaction, obtain images of charge transfer processes in individual molecules or influence the biological response to radiation, whether desired or undesired.

The demonstration that attosecond science can have a large impact in chemistry came in 2014, when, with the help of sophisticated computational modelling, it was shown (Science 346, 336) that experiments in which the amino acid phenylalanine is irradiated with attosecond laser pulses are indeed able to monitor the movement of electrons, and hence to modify the properties and chemical behaviour of the molecule.

According to the award-winning, the next steps in this field point to the use of attosecond techniques to prevent undesired chemical reactions, as those biological processes leading to adverse effects or, conversely, to induce chemical reactions that are currently impossible, which could lead to the production of new substances or materials. According to a recent article (Chemical Reviews, DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemrev.6b00453), the measurement and control of electronic motion in complex molecular structures is a formidable challenge that must be tackled in a multidisciplinary way, including intensive theoretical modelling in supercomputers, and may have a strong impact In chemistry for years to come.

King Jaime I Prizes

The Rey Jaime I Award recognizes researchers whose work is highly significant and has been developed for the most part in Spain. Throughout its 28 editions, it has been awarded to more than 100 researchers, the most important figures of the scientific, technological and entrepreneurial world of Spain. Many of the winners have received, during their careers, other relevant national and international awards.

Fernando Martín was born in Madrid, Spain, in 1961. He graduated in Chemistry in 1984 and Physics in 1986 at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. He received his Ph.D. at the same university in 1986. He completed his postdoctoral studies at the University of Bordeaux (1988), the Université de Paris VI (1989–1990), and the Univesity of Chicago (1995–1996). He has been Full Profesor at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid since 2005. He obtained the national research price Rey Juan Carlos I on 2000 and the prize of the Spanish Royal Society of Chemistry in 2010. He is currently Chair of the “Cátedra UAM-Fujitsu” on Scientific Computing and Big Data.

His research focuses on the theoretical modelling of photoexcitation and photoionization of atomic and molecular systems induced by synchrotron radiation and ultrashort laser pulses, as well as that of complex molecular systems, isolated or deposited on surfaces. He has published almost 400 articles, and since 2011, he has been the recipient of an Advanced Grant of the European Research Council to lead a project focused on the development of computational tools for the study of processes that occur in the femto- and atto-second timescales (XCHEM).

In the last years, his research group (https://campusys.qui.uam.es/) has attracted significant funding from the European Union (projects ERC-AdG- 290853 XCHEM, COST Action CM0702, MCA-ITN- 264951 CORINF y MSCA-EJD-642294 TCCM, MCA-RIG- 268284 ATTOTREND) and national programs funded through MICINN, MINECO and the AEI (projects FIS-2016-77889-R, FIS-2013-42002-R, FIS-2010-15127 and PIM2010EEC-00751-ERA-Chemistry), which has allowed him to establish what is perhaps the reference research group in Europe in the area of “Theoretical Attochemistry”.

Share in Facebook
Posted in News | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

MSIP Investigators – Research visits to ERC projects

In November 2013, the European Commission and the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning of the Republic of Korea (MSIP) signed an Implementing Arrangement to provide opportunities for the MSIP-supported Career Researchers and Young Researchers to pursue researchcollaboration with ERC-supported researchers.
( More information here )

This initiative has been designed to facilitate the interaction of researchers from both systems in their endeavour to further advance research frontiers and pursue answers to major challenges within the context of the ERC funded activity. This scientific cooperation will be implemented as research visits of up to one year to ERC project teams, whose travel ans subsistence costs may be funded by MSIP.

If you are either a MSIP Career Researcher or Young Researcher and want to carry out a short stage in our group, please, contact us so we can join this initiative before February 28th, 2014.

Share in Facebook
Posted in News | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Article by F. Martin and R. A. Matute at Spanish journal of physics

Fernando Martín (Professor at Universidad Autonoma de Madrid and Principal Investigator of XCHEM project) and Ricardo A. Matute (postdoctoral researcher in the team of the awarded Arieh Warshel, at Southern California University) reflect on the events which have led to the award of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry to three computational chemists (Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt, Arieh Warshel) for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems.

The recent contributions of Computational Chemistry to the interpretation of experimental results from all areas of chemistry has been enormous, and the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry is a great recognition of the discipline.

The development of Computational Chemistry has been boosted by recent progress in High Performance Computing (HPC). In Spain, this kind of calculations can be done on supercomputers of the Spanish Supercomputing Network, as Mare Nostrum in Barcelona, ​​or XCHEM supercomputer at the Autonomous University of Madrid (see figure). XCHEM supercomputer has been funded by the European Research Council through the program Advanced Grants.

Read the article (susbscribers only) [Link]

Share in Facebook
Posted in News, Press | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

National Science Foundation Investigators – Research visits to ERC projects

On July 13, 2012, the European Commission and the National Science Foundation (NSF) signed an Implementing Arrangement to enable U.S. – based scientists and engineers with 1) NSF-funded CAREER awards and 2) Postdoctoral Research Fellowships to pursue research collaboration with European Research Council (ERC) researchers and their teams (http://erc.europa.eu/sites/default/files/press_release/files/Press_release_NSF-ERC_agreement_final.pdf). This initiative is designed to facilitate the interaction of researchers from both systems in their endeavour to further advance research frontiers and seek answers to major challenges, within the context of the ERC funded activity.

The collaboration will be implemented as research visits of up to one year to ERC project teams by U.S. researchers that will be preselected by the NSF.

If you are either a U.S. – based scientists and engineers with 1) NSF-funded CAREER awards and 2) Postdoctoral Research Fellowships and want to carry out a short stage in our group, please, contact us so we can join this initiative and your stay may be supported.


Share in Facebook
Posted in News | Tagged , , | Leave a comment


Media: Official Resolution
Subject: El ERC hace pública la resolución relativa a la convocatoria Advanced Grants 2011.
[Download PDF]

Share in Facebook
Posted in Press | Tagged , | Leave a comment

List of ERC Advanced Grant projects

The ERC has published the list of projects selected for funding under the 2011 Advanced Grant Call. The success rate is 13 %. In Spain, 15 projects have been awarded, only 4 under the Physical Sciences and Engineering Panel.

Share in Facebook
Posted in News | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Prof. Dr. Fernando Martin Has been awarded with an Advanced Grant from ERC

The Advanced Grant program of the European Research Council (ERC) has selected for funding the project directed by Prof. Fernando Martín (Universidad Autonoma de Madrid), XChem. A grant amounting almost 2,5 M€.

The project XChem aims to explore the possibility of controlling the chemical properties of molecules, by using ultrashort XUV/X-ray pulses.

Share in Facebook
Posted in News | Tagged | Leave a comment