Dr Brianna Heazlewood featured in article on ultracold chemistry in 'Chemistry World'

Dr Brianna HeazlewoodDr Brianna Heazlewood, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Chemistry at Christ Church, has been featured in an article in Chemistry World focussing on the use of ultracold chemistry to discover more about how reactions happen.

Chemistry World is a monthly chemistry news magazine published by the Royal Society of Chemistry. In the article, entitled ‘Ultracold molecules are poised to unearth chemistry’s foundations’, a number of researchers give details of their work in ultracold chemistry, in which molecules are cooled to a thousandth of a degree above absolute zero, allowing scientists including Dr Heazlewood to examine the foundations of chemical reactivity.

When molecules are cooled to very low temperatures, scientists are able to detect and observe very different phenomena to those that occur at room temperature, allowing them to gain a deeper insight into what is really happening during reactions. In the article, Dr Heazlewood says, ‘if you actually know how reactions happen on a fundamental level, you can then add in the extra energy and build up the picture that way’. By studying reactions at the lowest temperatures, scientists can critically test how accurate existing models are and develop improved models of reactivity using actual measurements as input data (in place of more general approximations).

Dr Heazlewood’s team is one of a number that are working in the field of ultracold chemistry. Techniques used to cool down molecules by a factor of a million include laser cooling and Coulomb crystal trapping, which allows scientists to study even more complex molecules. In the future combining methods such as these may provide the opportunity to analyse these reactions even further, and in the coming years this field may be the setting for exciting new research, and even some unexpected discoveries.

Dr Heazlewood is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Christ Church and EPSRC Early Career Fellow in the Department of Chemistry. Her research interests are centred on cold chemical reaction dynamics in the field of cold chemistry, using a number of techniques to investigate fundamental reaction processes and underlying potential surfaces.