Laser Chemistry Laboratory

The Laser Chemistry Laboratory is driven to understand reactive molecules, free radicals and ions in the gas-phase and solution. We are housed in the School of Chemistry, University of Wollongong, Australia.

Our techniques include ion-trap mass spectrometry, tunable laser photodissociation spectroscopy and also microdroplet generation and trapping.

We are active in the training of undergraduate and postgraduate students – including Honours, Masters and PhD level. Our graduates have gone to many sectors including consulting, government, international research labs and education.


Nov 2018: Another successful beamtime expedition at the Advanced Light Source. This time with Paddy, Berwyck Poad (QUT) and Trevitt. Some nice results from this run (intermixed with a few “didnt really work” moments).IMG_5967.jpeg

Oct 2018: Our 2018 Honours students Brett and Boris complete Honours theses and present outstanding final seminars. Well done.

Oct 2018: Our CHEM341 undergraduate students finish their semester-long research project in the Laser Chemistry Lab. Nice work guys – some great science coming out of those projects!
August 2018: Outstanding cast of collaborators + cover led by  that includes mass spectrometry, OzID, lasers, synthetic chem. deployed in powerful combination to characterise (OAHFA) lipids is published in Journal of Lipid Research


July 2018: Aislinn and Oisin start undergraduate research projects (CHEM 340) in the Laser Chemistry Lab. Welcome!

June 2018: Our collaboration with Blanksby’s group at QUT on distonic radical oxidation – a journey of negativity and positivity – is now online and is for a special Focus: Application of Photons and Radicals for Mass Spectrometry in JASMS. linkScreen Shot 2018-06-19 at 10.38.45 am.png

May 2018: Josh departs back to Cardiff after his study abroad internship. Josh worked on our single microdroplet levitation experiment. Thanks Josh!

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May 2018: Paddy and Trevitt complete another (mostly) successful mission at VUV Chemical Dynamics Beamline, Advanced Light Source, LBNL.IMG_4829.jpg

Feb 2018: Boris and Brett have started their Honours year in the Laser Chemistry Lab.

Feb 2018: Sam, Ben and Paddy commence their PhD journeys in the Laser Chemistry Laboratory. Their polished-up 2017 Honours Theses are mean and green – are we the only humans in the world that discusses the “wavelength” of the thesis colour?


Jan 2018: James’s paper reports intriguing chemistry of the protonated uracil radical ion oxidation – our results now online in

Nov 2017: Cameron’s first first-author paper is accepted in PCCP – “Highly Efficient Gas-Phase Reactivity of Protonated Pyridine Radicals with Propene” – in collaboration with Blanksby (QUT) and G. da Silva (UMelb). Its online here. Great work Cameron and all.Screen Shot 2017-11-14 at 10.37.28 am.png

Nov 2017: Our three Honours students (Paddy, Ben and Sam) have completed their Honours projects dishing out awesome talks and submitting theses brimming with red-hot data. Great effort – well done.

Also, Boris, our ugrad project student (CHEM340), finished his thesis on the droplet levitation experiment – and presented an excellent talk on his research.

Oct 2017: New JACS Communication is online – awesome collaboration with G. da Silva (UMelb) and Hemberger’s team at Swiss Light Source: link

Abstract Image

Sept 2017: The new Laser Chemistry Lab coffee mugs have arrived! Designed by Sam -super effort to get the RRKM theory involved (see the “tight” and “loose” cracks).



July 2017: Josh arrives from Cardiff to start his Masters project on the electrodynamic levitation of microdroplets – studying oxidation on lipid droplets. Welcome Josh.

July 2017: The Laser Chemistry Group attended the ANZSMS meeting in Adelaide – Paddy, Cameron, Sam and Ben all presenting posters. Trevitt presented a talk on the group’s Laser Action Spectroscopy experiments. And Cameron won a best-poster prize. Trevitt was also presented with the ANZSMS Michael Guilhaus Research Award. We are sincerely thankful to ANZSMS and Waters for the award.

Here is a video of a prototype of the experiment related to that award (…yes, that is Blue-Tak on the sides).

Next, Cameron and Trevitt attended the RACI National Congress meeting in Melbourne. Cameron won a best-poster prize … again … for his poster in the Physical Chemistry Division poster session – he’s on fire.

June 2017: Shane Ellis (U Maastricht) and Steve Blanksby (QUT) and others collaborated with our Lab on laser activation of selected lipid ozonides. The paper is now online:

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May 2017: Goodbye Lewis. Lewis Hutton, our visiting Cardiff research student heads back home. He worked with us. for 8 months, to establish new a electrodynamic levitation device for the storage and chemical study of microdroplets. Thanks Lewis.


February 2017: Welcome Sam Marlton, Paddy Kelly and Ben McKinnon who have started their Honours year in the Laser Chemistry Lab. Exciting year ahead

December 2016: Congratulations to Dr Bart Vaughn – his PhD thesis “Development of single microdroplet techniques for fundamental chemical measurements” is complete.


December 2016: Our joint paper with Dr Berwyck Poad (QUT), Steve Blanksby (QUT) and collaborators at ANU and USyd reported a new superbase – and this molecule is in the running for C & EN’s Molecule of the Year. Vote here:


November 2016: Congratulations to Cameron for picking up the Best 1st Year PhD talk prize for the School of Chemistry from this year’s School conference.

November 2016: Adam visited China as part of the ATSE’s YSEP China-Australia program. Seven Universities in 10 days: Beijing Normal U, Peking U, Beijing Int. Tech., Dalian Chemical Physics, USTC (NRSL), Shanghai Jiao Tong and Shanghai U.

Amazing journey – exciting science. LINKimg_1032-3

October 2016: Ben, our u/grad project student , submits his final report – awesome new picosecond time-resolved results.

October 2016: Cameron and Trevitt visit the Advance light source for experiments with collaborators at Caltech and Sandia NL — successful experiments (and very little sleep).

September 2016: Cameron and Matthew present their phd research at the raci physical chemistry student conference in katoomba, nsw. awesome meeting.

September 2016: Bart presents his final phd seminar to a packed house at uow.

September 2016: congrats to Matthew for jointly winning the 2016 Larry & Marilyn Hick Award, which is awarded for “the best research paper by a HDR student in the School of Chemistry at UOW”. for his paper: “M. B. Prendergast et al. Formation and stability of gas-phase o-benzoquinone from oxidation of ortho-hydroxyphenyl: a combined neutral and distonic radical study, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 18, 4320-4332 (2016). 

jul2016: Matt wins a poster prize at the International Symposium on Gas Kinetics and Related Phenomena in york, uk. great conference! #gk2016york

jul2016: poad’s paper on a superbase with the highest predicted proton affinity is published in chemical science and was highlighted in chemistry world – awesome collaboration with qut, anu, usyd and uow.

Also featured in C&E News

JUN2016: Bart’s paper on microdroplet generation is published in RSC advances – very nice.

JUN2016: Our collaboration with u. melb researchers on the photoactivity of retinal is published in jasms.

APR2016: Matthew, Cameron and trevitt complete a experimental mission at the advanced light source, lbnl, usa with our sandia nl collaborators – exciting data!

FEB2016: Chris hansen departs to U. bristol to commence a postdoc – good luck chris!

FEB2016: Cameron Starts his PhD studies with us.

feb2016: Matthew’s hydroxyphenyl oxidation paper is highlighted as a cover in phys. Chem. Chem. Phys.

Feb2016: James and Cameron present their results at the pacific conference on spectroscopy and dynamics at asilomar, California

FEB2016: Matthew gives a talk at physchem2016 in christchurch, NZ

FEB2016: a perspective article on CN and CH radicals by trevitt and goulay appears in phys. Chem. Chem. Phys.

OCT2015: Matthew’s paper on aromatic radical oxidation  and the stability of ortho-benzoquinone is accepted in phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. joint study at UOW and the Advanced light source. great collaborations

AUG2015: Alumnus Catherine publishes a paper based on her honours work in PCCP – great collaborative effort.

AUG2015: James won a poster prize at the ANZSMS/AOMSC Mass spectrometry meeting in Brisbane – nice job.

JULY2015: Joint paper with groups at QUT and UC Riverside – on laser PD mass spectrometry of lipid complex – is accepted in Int. J. Mass. Spec.

JULY2015: Our Collaboration with Alumi Dr Ben Kirk (LBNL) and Sandia National Labs – on the molecular weight growth radical chemistry of the 1-propynyl radical – is published in Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys.

MAy2015: Chris’s paper on protonated quinoline photodissociation is out in Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. It is part of a special issue on Optical spectroscopy coupled with mass spectrometry methods

MAR2015: Cameron commences his Honours Project year investigating THE Laser levitation of microdroplets

Feb2015: James Starts his PHD journey studying ions and radicals with laser spectroscopy and mass spectrometry

JAN2015: Chris’s Paper on the UV photodissociation of protonated pyridine is now out in J. Chem. Phys.

JAN2015: Trevitt is now on the Editorial board for international journal of chemical kinetics

DEC2014: Matt wins BEST poster prize at the RACI National CONGress meeting in Adelaide and Chris presented a talk on protonated azabenzne photodissociation.

DEC2014: welcome Cameron to the group who is working with us over the summer

OCT2014: OUR collaboration on Charge-Tagged beta-Hydroxyperoxyl Radical appears in PCCP

OCT2014: HONOURS students James, Catherine and Jacob submit their theses – sizzling hot results!

AUG2014: Bart presents his microdroplet research at IAC2014 in busan, S. Korea.

JUN2014: Chris presents his research on the photodissociation spectroscopy of N-substituted aromatics in a talk at ISMS, UIUC, Illinois, USA

MAY2014: xylyl radical decomposition paper (mentioned below) is highlighted on cover of JPCA

MAr2014: collaborative paper – with PSI (SWITZ) and

U. Melbourne – on xylyl radical decomposition and spectroscopy is JUSt accepted in J. phys. Chem. A

FEB2014: Phil’s paper on the rapid profiling of photodissociation in droplets is accepted in analytical chemistry

FEB2014: Matt and Chris present their latest results at Pacific conference on spectroscopy and dynamics, Asilomar, California.

JAN2014: Our collaboration on the Photodissociation of TEMPO-modified peptides appears in PCCP

DEC2013: Bart wins a best poster prize at RACI physchem2103 in hobart.

NOV2013: Matt’s methylphenyl oxidation paper is now accepted and online in Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys.

NOV2013: Congrats to Honours students Brendon and Matt For completing EXCELLENT projects

OCT2013: OUR recent SLS study on xylyl radical decomposition appears on ACS LIVESLIDES:

view it here.

OCT2013: Collaboration with LBNL, UC Berkeley and Sandia on CH + acrolein nets publication in J. Phys. Chem. A

SEP2013: Hansen’s n-methyl Pyridiunium action spectroscopy paper appears in J. Phys Chem A.

SEP2013: Trevitt is awarded the 2014 RACI Physical Chemistry Division Lectureship

AUG2013: Ben Kirk leaves to start his new position at the Advanced Light Source, LBNL, California. good luck ben!

July2013: Our swiss light source collaborative study on the meta-xylyl thermal decomposition now ONLINE in JPC Lett

July2013: Trevitt and Prendergast’s vuv synchrotron study on CH + propene is now ONLINE

July2013:  Poad’s landmark carbonyloxyl radical article in angEw. Chemie is now online

July2013: KIRK’s dianion paper is now online

JUN2013: Bezzina and Hankins complete ugrad projects and Nick Reed completes honours – exciting results.

JUN2013: Hansen presents his lastest results in a talk at ASMS, Minneapolis

MAY2013: JACS paper on peroxy radical action spectroscopy is now online DOI: 10.1021/ja402610s. Well done to all


APR2013: HANSEN’S HALOANILINE ACtion spectroscopy paper is out iN JASMS

APR2013: Kirk’s NO2 Distonic Radical paper is published in the DIstonic IOns focus ISSUE of JASMS

FEB2013: Hansen winS ANZSMS POSTER PRIZE – he’s on fire

FEB2013: Welcome new Honours students – Brendon and Matt T (joinT with Dr poad)

NOV2012: Hansen winS Free Rads CARNIVAL POSTER PRIZE

NOV2012: Our new ESKPLA picosecond

pulsewidth laser has BEEN INSTALLED – thanks to a UOW equipment grant