Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Chemical reaction dynamics and mechanisms

This research area focuses on the study of rates and mechanisms of chemical reactions in gas and solution phase, and at surfaces.

Partners involved:
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

The scope and what we're doing

This research area focuses on the study of rates and mechanisms of chemical reactions in gas and solution phase, and at surfaces (including kinetics and thermodynamics). It includes sub-themes such as physical organic chemistry and ultrafast spectroscopy.

We will focus the research area on:

  • creating strong pathways to impact from fundamental research
  • further coordinating the provision of infrastructure within this field, to ensure maximised equipment usage.

We will encourage the community to focus on integrating the design of ‘pathways to impact’ at an early stage, including the exploration of opportunities to create new understanding in application areas, such as in catalysis, bioenergy, continuous manufacturing, biosciences and biological chemistry. This will enable advances in this research area to contribute to key challenges in areas such as energy, manufacturing, sustainable chemistry and healthcare technologies.

Strong connections to theoretical work should also be maintained, to increase fundamental understanding of chemical reactions and so underpin developments in other fields.

We will encourage the establishment of clear links to industry to enable acceleration of impact through translation of research outputs. This could include, for example, small-scale commercialisation of novel components for instrumentation (for example detectors), to enable their wider use by researchers within this area and in other fields.

The community should seek to optimise current access to capital equipment and equipment sharing, and explore where new advanced capabilities may be required to sustain future competitiveness on the international stage.

Why we're doing it

This is an area of high quality research in the UK, including world-leading outputs from experimental work on reaction dynamics and photophysics that is complemented by high-level theoretical work.

Recent advances include:

  • use of ultrafast lasers and multidimensional spectroscopies for real-time probing of nuclear motions in condensed-phase systems
  • new light sources for probing electronic and nuclear motion in gas and condensed phases
  • growing interest in exploring how gas-phase studies can inform understanding of reaction dynamics in solution and at the gas-liquid and gas-solid interfaces.

Fundamental research in this area underpins research in a range of other fields across engineering and the physical sciences and contributes to a wide range of sectors.

It is recognised as industrially important to the chemicals, agrichemicals, manufacturing, energy and transport sectors, as well as underpinning work in the healthcare, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and environment sectors.

We encourage researchers to consider how they can best engage with users in a changing industrial research landscape, to accelerate impact from fundamental research.

This area benefits from a well-balanced distribution of funding across UK institutions, with no single organisation dominating and some critical mass activity in key centres. Capacity across career stages is also well balanced and leaders are supported through fellowships from diverse sources in the funding landscape.

This area is capital intensive and there is an ongoing requirement to maintain and replace equipment. There is concern that the cost of undertaking experimental work may impact on the UK’s future capability to conduct world-leading research, and consortium approaches to sourcing, sharing and using equipment are expected to become more commonplace to enable this area to remain internationally competitive.

Researchers also make extensive use of large national and international facilities, and have received e-infrastructure support through Software for the Future and High Performance Computing development funding opportunities, as well as in the usage of computational facilities including the Advanced Research Computing High End Resource (ARCHER2).

View evidence sources used to inform our research strategies.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

Visualising our portfolio (VoP) is a tool for users to visually interact with the EPSRC portfolio and data relationships. Find out more about research area connections and funding for Chemical reaction dynamics and mechanisms.

Find previously funded projects on Grants on the Web.

Last updated: 27 July 2023

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