Research in our group

Research in the McCusker Group may be divided into two main topics, as described below. To learn more about our individual research projects, please visit the members page.

Ultrafast Spectroscopy of Transition Metal Complexes

Research efforts in this area are concerned with the short timescale photo-induced dynamics of transition metal complexes.  By “short timescale”, we refer to processes occurring between the time a photon is absorbed by a molecule and the point at which that molecule is fully relaxed in its lowest-lying excited state. Some of the questions we are addressing with this research include the following: 1) what is the general timescale for excited-state evolution in transition metal complexes? 2) what is the mechanism of this process? 3) how do the geometric and electronic structures of the compounds, the surrounding medium, and other factors couple to and/or influence this process? and 4) to what extent can we use this information to control excited-state dynamics? Some of these questions are very fundamental in nature, whereas others are geared toward applications involving solar energy conversion or catalysis. What distinguishes this group, we believe, is our ability to carry out both the synthesis and spectroscopic characterization of a wide range of inorganic molecules. This enables us to systematically examine chemical perturbations to excited-state electronic and geometric structure, and as a result, develop a comprehensive picture of how transition metal chromophores absorb and dissipate energy.

Solar/Ultrafast Sub-Group Research Summary (pdf)

Electron Exchange and Chemical Dynamics

Electron exchange is a term which describes the electrostatic interactions that can exist among unpaired electrons in molecules. Our group is interested in understanding the influence electron exchange has on the chemistry of inorganic compounds.  Metal-quinone complexes provide the framework for studying the photophysics of exchange-coupled molecules.  The redox activity of the quinone ligand provides a facile mechanism for turning “on” or “off” electron exchange, allowing us to probe the effects of spin coupling on excited-state dynamics in closely related sets of chemical systems.  A second area concerns reaction dynamics, where the emphasis is on electron and energy transfer processes in polynuclear metal clusters.  Through detailed studies of synthetically tailored molecules, we are examining whether or not the electron exchange interactions present in such clusters plays a functional role in their reactivity. 

Coupled to this experimental work are theoretical studies that exploit recent advances in density functional theory.  We believe that these combined efforts will allow us to forge an important link between magnetism and the electron/energy transfer chemistry of molecules, as well as provide insights into the possible role of electron exchange in the biochemistry of metalloproteins.

Spin Sub-Group Research Summary (pdf)

Synthesis Poster Fall 2016 (pdf)

Website Updated: 1/16/2017