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Dwayne Miller

Principal Investigator
Lash Miller Chemical Laboratories 80 St. George St., LM245A Toronto M5S 3H6 Canada
Max Planck Director, Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter, Hamburg, Germany Professor of Chemistry and Physics, University of Toronto, Distinguished Research Faculty Chair in Chemical and Biological Physics, University Professor; Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada; Fellow of the Chemical Institute of Canada; Fellow of the Optical Society of America; Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry

Degrees / Research Training

1983-1984 NATO Science Fellow, Université Joseph Fourier, Dr. P.Trommsdorff

1978-1983 Stanford University, Ph.D., 1983, Advisor: Professor Michael D. Fayer

1974-1978 University of Manitoba, B.Sc. Honours, 1978, Advisor: Professor Bryan R. Henry


2014-2020, Director, Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter

2010-2013, Director, Max Planck Group, Centre for Free Electron Laser Science/DESY

2007-present, University Professor, Chemistry and Physics, University of Toronto

2005-2010, Director of the Institute for Optical Sciences, University of Toronto

1995-present, Professor of Chemistry and Physics, University of Toronto

1992-1995, Professor of Chemistry and Optics, University of Rochester

1988-1992, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Optics, University of Rochester

1984-1988, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, University of Rochester

Representative Publications (237 total and 11 issued patents)

  1. Anatoly A. Ischenko, Peter M. Weber, and R. J. Dwayne Miller. Capturing chemistry in action with electrons: Realization of atomically resolved reaction dynamics. CHEMICAL REVIEWS, 117 (16, SI) :11066-11124 , 2017-08-23
  2. Hong-Guang Duan, Valentyn I. Prokhorenko, Richard J. Cogdell, Khuram Ashraf, Amy L. Stevens, Michael Thorwart, and R. J. Dwayne Miller. Nature does not rely on long-lived electronic quantum coherence for photosynthetic energy transfer. PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 114 (32) :8493–8498 , 2017-08-08
  3. Rui Xian, Gaston Corthey, David M. Rogers, Carole A. Morrison, Valentyn I. Prokhorenko, Stuart A. Hayes, and R. J. Dwayne Miller. Coherent ultrafast lattice-directed reaction dynamics of triiodide anion photodissociation. NATURE CHEMISTRY, 9 (6) :516–522 , 2017-06-01
  4. Tadahiko Ishikawa, Stuart A. Hayes, Sercan Keskin, Gaston Corthey, Masaki Hada, Kostyantyn Pichugin, Alexander Marx, Julian Hirscht, Kenta Shionuma, Ken Onda, Yoichi Okimoto, Shin-ya Koshihara, Takashi Yamamoto, Hengbo Cui, Mitsushiro Nomura, Yugo Oshima,. Direct observation of collective modes coupled to molecular orbital-driven charge transfer. SCIENCE, 350 (6267) :1501-1505 , 2015-12-18
  5. Philip J. M. Johnson, Alexei Halpin, Takefumi Morizumi, Valentyn I. Prokhorenko, Oliver P. Ernst, and R. J. Dwayne Miller. Local vibrational coherences drive the primary photochemistry of vision. NATURE CHEMISTRY, 7 (12) :980-986 , 2015-12-01
  6. H. Jean-Ruel et al. “Ring Closing Reaction in Diarylethene Captured by Femtosecond Electron Crystallography”, J. Phys. Chem. B, 2013, 117 (49) 15894–15902. This work was the first to follow a true transition state process of chemical reaction viz small barrier in the excited state potential. The key motions involved in directing this classic cyclization reaction with conserved stereochemistry were directly observed at the atomic level.
  7. M. Gao et al. “Mapping Molecular Motions Leading to Charge Delocalization using Ultrabright Electrons”, Nature 2013, 496(7445), 343-346. First direct observation of the far from equilibrium motions and enormous reduction in dimensionality in barrier crossing regions that directs chemistry – the magic of chemistry revealed at the atomic level.
  8. V.I. Prokhorenko et al., “Coherent Control of Retinal Isomerization in Bacteriorhodopsin,” Science 2006, 313(5791), 1257-1261. Opened new field of weak field coherent control, addressed long standing issue of quantum coherence in biological systems, and with recent theoretical support highlighted a fundamental difference for coherent control for closed and open quantum systems.
  9. M.L. Cowan et al., “Ultrafast Memory Loss and Energy Redistribution in the Hydrogen Bond Network of Liquid H2O,” Nature 2005, 434(7030), 199–202. Solved 100 year old problem in spectroscopy, and provided directly the intermolecular couplings involved the hydrogen bond network that imparts water’s special properties.
  10. B.J. Siwick et al., “An Atomic-Level View of Melting Using Femtosecond Electron Diffraction,” Science 2003, 302(5649), 1382-1385. First femtosecond diffraction experiment with sufficient diffraction orders to give a direct observation of atomic motions on the relevant timescale – First “Molecular Movie”.
  11. RJD MILLER. Energetics and dynamics of deterministic protein motion. ACCOUNTS OF CHEMICAL RESEARCH, 27 (5) :145-150 , 1994-05-01.
  12. L GENBERG, L RICHARD, G MCLENDON, and RJD MILLER. Direct observation of global protein motion in hemoglobin and myoglobin on picosecond time scales. SCIENCE, 251 (4997) :1051-1054 , 1991-03-01.

Invited Lectures and Papers Presented

From 2008 – 2013, over 200 presentations were made with over 150 of these being invited lectures, Named Lectures, Gordon Conferences, Faraday Discussions, Max Born Institute, DESY, Riken, Kyoto, Institute for Molecular Science (Okazaki), Nagoya, Columbia, Yale, MIT, UC Boulder Distinguished Summer Lecture Series, Princeton, Stanford, Global Lecturer (Japan), Student Invited Colloquia (Chicago, Emory, Stanford) etc.


European Physical Society Prize for Laser Science, A.P. Sloan Fellowship, Camille and Henry Dreyfus Fellowship, Guggenheim Fellowship, Humboldt Award, Presidential Young Investigator, Rutherford Medal in Chemistry, CIC Medal, McNeil Medal for Science Promotion

Short Bio

R. J. Dwayne Miller has published over 200 research articles, one book, and several reviews. He made seminal contributions to the development of coherent multidimensional spectroscopy methods and associated ultrafast laser technology, and most notably pioneered the development of ultrabright electron sources to probe structural dynamics. The electron sources developed by his group are sufficiently bright to literally light up atomic motions in real time. He and his group were the first to capture atomic motions during the defining moments of chemistry – to directly observe the very essence of chemistry. This work accomplished one of the dream experiments in science, to bring the chemists’ collective gedanken experiment of chemistry to direct observation. It is forming the basis for a new conceptual model for chemistry based on key reaction modes that unifies structure and dynamics to guide chemical intuition. As a testimony to the importance of basic research, the very first atomic movie provided new insight into strongly driven phase transitions involved in laser ablation that led to the ultimate limit in minimally invasive laser surgery with intact molecular signatures for guidance, and scar free healing.

His research accomplishments have been recognized with an A.P. Sloan Fellowship, Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, Guggenheim Fellowship, Presidential Young Investigator Award (USA), Polanyi Award, Rutherford Medal in Chemistry, the Chemical Institute of Canada (CIC) Medal, and numerous named lectureships. He was inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Fellow of the CIC, Fellow of the Optical Society of America, and distinguished University Professor at the University of Toronto. He received the E. Bright Wilson Award in Spectroscopy, conferred by the American Chemical Society (2015), the Centenary Prize from the Royal Society of Chemistry (2016), and Doctorate of Science Degree (honoris causa) from the University of Waterloo (2017). He recently received (Sept 2018) the European Physical Award for Laser Science for “Achieving the Fundamental Limit to Min. Invasive Surgery with Biodiagnostics” recognizing an important advance in medical applications. He is also a strong advocate for science promotion earning the McNeil Medal from the Royal Society of Canada (2011) for founding Science Rendezvous, which is the largest celebration of science (geographically at least) with over 300 events all across Canada with new initiatives for remote communities in the North, aimed to make science accessible to the general public with over 250,000 attendees annually, made possible by >6000 volunteers/researchers.