Our aim is to understand how light can be used to probe, and eventually control, electrons in magnetic molecular materials. We use ultrafast magneto-optical (MO) pump-probe techniques, which are one of very few methods that can directly probe the spin state of electrons on timescales relevant for photoexcitation (fs to ps). The MO signal is obtained by carefully measuring the change in polarisation state of the probe pulse. To understand the photophysics of the materials, we also use transient absorption spectroscopy.
We form an active part of the Ultrafast Chemical Physics in Scotland research grouping, which was created to bring together experimental and theoretical researchers in Scotland to collaborate and share ideas.
Ultrafast spectroscopy of molecule-based magnets
We are interested in a class of magnetic materials, which have previously not been studied from the perspective of ultrafast magnetism and are based on molecular building blocks. A promising class of materials are the Prussian blue analogues (PBAs), since they are magnetic and their optical properties have been well studied. These are cyanobridged bimetallic compounds, composed of transition-metal ions, with a face-centred cubic lattice. Due to the chemical flexibility of these materials, interesting magnetic and optical properties are obtained and it is possible to systematically study how the material composition and properties affect the magnetisation dynamics.
L. Hedley, M. D. Horbury, F. Liedy, J. O. Johansson, Chem. Phys. Lett. 687, 125-130 (2017).
J. O. Johansson, J.-W. Kim, E. Allwright, D. Rogers, N. Robertson, J.-Y. Bigot, Chem. Sci., 7, 7061-7067 (2016).
K. Barlow, J. O. Johansson: Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 23, 8118–8131 (2021)
Single-molecule magnets and exchange-coupled polynuclear metal clusters
We are also interested in single-molecule magnets (SMMs), which are molecules that show magnetic hysteresis below a certain temperature TB (the blocking temperature). This can be achieved with only a few metal centres in the molecule and arises due to an energy barrier to magnetisation reversal. We carry out transient absorption spectroscopy and collaborate with theory groups to understand dynamics in these large exchange-coupled systems.
F. Liedy, R. Shi, M. Coletta, J. Vallejo, E. K. Brechin, G. Lefkidis, W. Huebner, J. O. Johansson, J. Magn. Magn. Mater. 501, 166476 (2020).
F. Liedy, J. Eng, R. McNab, R. Inglis, T. J. Penfold, E. K. Brechin, J. O. Johansson, Nature Chemistry, 12, 452–458 (2020).
Thin film fabrication
We are interested in developing new thin films based on magnetic molecular materials but also exploit other properties, such as electrochromics, to create switchable multifunctional materials. We typically study thin films of molecular materials, which we make ourselves using a variety of techniques such as layer-by-layer (LBL) and electrochemical deposition and have developed an expertise in optimising film properties to best suit optical measurements. We characterise the films using equipment at the UoE such as AFM, SEM, XPS, ellipsometry and UV/VIS, IR and Raman spectroscopies.
L. Hedley, L. Porteous, D. Hutson, N. Robertson, J.O. Johansson, J. Mater. Chem. C, 6, 512 (2018).
L. Hedley, N. Robertson and J.O. Johansson, Electrochimica Acta, 236, 97 (2017).
H. A. Lewis, J. Kirkpatrick, J. O. Johansson: Thin Solid Films, 732, 138767 (2021)
Our setup is located in the ultrafast laser lab in the School of Chemistry. We use a NOPA as a pump laser and a white-light continuum as a probe. We have a cryostat enabling sample temperatures down to 4.5 K and an electromagnet to produce magnetic fields of up to 400 mT. We use CaF2 white-light continuum from 310 - 700 nm.