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Dr Adam Kirrander

Dr Adam Kirrander

Senior Lecturer in Chemical Physics

Room 261

University of Edinburgh
Joseph Black Building
David Brewster Road

Research Interests

Quantum dynamics of atoms and molecules, theoretical spectroscopy, impact of new light-sources on chemistry (ultrafast dynamics, coherent control, time-resolved x-ray diffraction)

Research Overview

My research in theoretical chemical physics includes time-resolved dynamics and spectroscopy, and links to interdisciplinary fields such as modelling and simulations, as well as energy, atmospheric and space science. I work with experimentalists to explain and analyse results, propose new experiments, and develop theory and computational methods for quantum dynamics in molecules.

To a large extent, my work is motivated by the opportunities provided by new light-sources, such as ultrafast lasers and free-electron x-ray lasers. Examples from my own work include:

  • ultrafast dynamics of molecules, atoms and electrons
  • coherent control - using light to control chemistry
  • time-resolved x-ray diffraction and 'molecular movies'
  • high-resolution spectroscopy and precise measurements

Ultimately, these advances will allow sophisticated understanding, manipulation, and design of molecules, molecular properties and atomic level processes. To reach this goal, we need to develop theoretical and computational methods that can correctly describe quantum dynamics, i.e. which describe how the nuclei and electrons move together during a chemical process. Such methods bridge the gap between traditional molecular dynamics (what are the atoms doing?) and quantum chemistry (what are the electrons doing?).


  1. Electronic coherence in ultrafast x-ray scattering from molecular wavepackets, M. Simmermacher, N. E. Henriksen, K. B. Møller, A. Moreno Carrascosa and A. Kirrander, Physical Review Letters 122, 073003 (2019) 10.1103/PhysRevLett.122.073003
  2. Determining Orientations of Optical Transition Dipole Moments Using Ultrafast X-ray Scattering, H. Yong et al. Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters 9 6556 (2018) 10.1021/acs.jpclett.8b02773
  3. Mapping the Complete Reaction Path of a Complex Photochemical Reaction, A. D. Smith et al. Physical Review Letters 120 183003 (2018) 10.1103/PhysRevLett.120.183003
  4. Ultrafast X-ray Scattering from Molecules, A Kirrander, K Saita, D Shalashilin, Journal of Chemical Theory and Computations 12 957 (2016) 10.1021/acs.jctc.5b01042
  5. Imaging molecular motion: Femtosecond x-ray scattering of an electrocyclic chemical reaction, M. P. Minitti, J. M. Budarz, A. Kirrander, J. S. Robinson, D. Ratner, T. J. Lane, D. Zhu, J. M. Glownia, M. Kozina, H. T. Lemke, M. Sikorski, Y. Feng, S. Nelson, K. Saita, B. Stankus, T. Northey, J. B. Hastings, and P. M. Weber, Phys. Rev. Lett. (Published on 22 June 2015 online in Physical Review Letters).
  6. How to Observe Coherent Electron Dynamics Directly, Suominen, HJ & Kirrander, A 2014, Physical Review Letters, vol 112, no. 4, 043002., 10.1103/PhysRevLett.112.043002