Welcome to the Miller Group
We're a group of experimental physical chemists and physicists (and even the occasional MD Ph.D and Ph. Eng. students) working under the guidance of R.J. Dwayne Miller, Professor of Chemistry and Physics and Director of the Institute for Optical Sciences. The group is devoted to understanding the primary processes of molecular reaction dynamics with a major emphasis on understanding the connection between the chemistry driving biological functions and the structure-function relationship of biology. Our group represents a broad range of cultures, languages and backgrounds, and as our photos suggest, we're a pretty active bunch.
Where are we?
We're located in the departments ofand , and one of 20 groups forming the at the , . The University is located in the heart of downtown , and has one of the largest and strongest graduate programs in the country. Our position between the departments of Chemistry and Physics is ideally suited to bridging both disciplines to provide a different perspective on molecular dynamics. This highly interdisciplinary environment is further enhanced by the Institute for Optical Sciences that provides a common intellectual focus with respect to exploring light-matter interactions. The Institute encompasses the departments of Chemistry, Physics, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Materials Science (Eng.) and the University Health Network. The Institute also provides a number of highly enriching programs with respect to training for research careers in industry, technology transfer, and help with job placement that is unique in large part due to this highly interdisciplinary environment.
What do we do?
The research focus in on understanding molecular reaction dynamics on the fastest possible time scales, with an overall objective of bringing new insight into the structure-function correlation to chemical and biological processes. For complex systems, correlations to specific structures or spatial relationships of interacting atoms are quickly lost due to stochastic fluctuations and collisions. By going to extremely short times scales to study the very fastest processes, i.e. the primary processes, the atomic correlations are conserved and a detailed atomic level description can still be retrieved. The relevant timescales are in the 10 to 100 femtosecond timescale (1 femtosecond = 10-15 seconds). This extremely fast time scale requires is now accessible with the latest developments in solid state lasers that can readily achieve near single cycle optical pulses of a few femtoseconds. The ability to directly observe atoms move on this timescale has required new developments in ultrabright femtosecond electron pulses to light up atomic motions on the fly. This new electron pulse source development has been the primary focus of the group and was recently realized in the first atomic level observation of a phase transition. The group has also been very active in the development of a number of new spectroscopic methods, diffractive and adaptive optics, solid state laser technologies, electron-optics as well as nanofabrication methods to provide the prerequisite tools for these studies. The full range of the group’s activities and specific details on current projects is given under the research page.