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Last updated
July 2019


a picture of Dr Matthew L. Costen

Prof. Matthew L. Costen

Dynamics and Structure
Institute of Chemical Sciences
Heriot-Watt University
Phone: +44 (0)131 451 8197

E-mail: M.L.Costen@hw.ac.uk

Research Overview

I am interested in understanding the forces that act between atoms and molecules when they collide and exchange energy, or react. We use a variety of state-of-the-art experimental techniques to measure the detailed dynamics of the collision process, and interpret the results with the help of theory. My research covers both the gas-phase, and the gas-liquid interface. In the gas-phase, I am interested in the photochemistry of small molecules, and the stereodynamics of collisional energy transfer in small free radicals. At the gas-liquid interface we study collisional energy transfer, reactive scattering, and the molecular structure of liquid surface.


Current Research Funding

EPSRC Grant EP/P001459/1 'Dynamical Chemical Processes'

I am a co-investigator on this grant, along with principal investigator Ken McKendrick, and co-investigators Martin Paterson, Dave Townsend and Stuart Greaves. This is a 'Platform' grant, enabling us to retain our core post-doctoral staff and to develop their careers. We are using it to develop our collaborations between experiment and theory, both internally and with external collaborators. We are also able to perform 'proof-of-concept' studies, which can then lead to the develop of new, large-scale, proposals.

EPSRC Grant EP/M021823/1 'Reactive Scattering Dynamics at the Gas-Liquid Interface: Bridging the Gap between the Gas-Phase and Solution'

I am the principal investigator on this grant, along with co-investigators Ken McKendrick and Stuart Greaves, which uses applies NIR and IR Frequency-Modulated Transient Absorption Spectroscopy to the study of reactive and inelastic collisions of CN and HCN with gas-liquid interfaces. It is co-funded with a theoretical project (EP/M022129/1) led by Dr Dave Glowacki (Bristol, UK).

Recent Research Funding

EPSRC Grant EP/J017973/1 'Start the clock: a new direct method to study collisions of electronically excited molecules'

I was the principal investigator on this grant, along with co-investigators Ken McKendrick and Dave Townsend, which finished in August 2016. This project used crossed-molecular beams and velocity-map imaging to study the state-to-state stereodynamics of the scattering of electronically excited NO radicals, and funded the development of this unique apparatus.

EPSRC Grant EP/K032062/1 'Ionic-Liquid surface structures: informing applications through dynamical measurements'

I was a co-investigator on this grant, along with the principal investigator Ken McKendrick, and co-investigators John Slattery and Duncan Bruce (York, UK), which finished in Dec 2016. Our US collaborators, Tim Minton (Montana State University, USA) and George Schatz (Northwestern, USA), were funded by a parallel grant from NSF. This joint project used reactive scattering of oxygen atoms, in lower (HWU) and higher (MSU) energy regimes, to probe the structure and composition of the extreme outer layers of ionic liquids and ionic liquid crystals. The interpretation of the experiments was aided by computational molecular dynamics simulations and selected scattering calculations.


Selected Publications

  • Non-intuitive rotational reorientation in collisions of NO(A2Σ+) with Ne from direct measurement of a four-vector correlation

    Thomas R. Sharples, Joseph G. Leng, Thomas F. M. Luxford, Kenneth G. McKendrick, Pablo G. Jambrina, F. Javier Aoiz, David W. Chandler and Matthew L. Costen

    Nature Chemistry (2018) 10, 1148

    doi: 10.1038/s41557-018-0121-9

  • Collision-Energy Dependence of the Uptake of Hydroxyl Radicals at Atmospherically Relevant Liquid Surfaces

    Robert H. Bianchini, Maria A. Tesa-Serrate, Matthew L. Costen and Kenneth G. McKendrick

    Journal of Physical Chemistry C (2018) 122, 6648

    doi: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.7b12574

  • Determining the composition of the vacuum liquid interface in ionic-liquid mixtures

    Eric J. Smoll Jr, Maria A. Tesa-Serrate, Simon M. Purcell, Lucia D'Andrea, Duncan W. Bruce, John M. Slattery, Matthew L. Costen, Timothy K. Minton, and Kenneth G. McKendrick.

    Faraday Discussions (2018) 206, 497

    doi: 10.1039/c7fd00175d

  • Nanosegregation and Structuring in the Bulk and at the Surface of Ionic-Liquid Mixtures

    Duncan W. Bruce, Christopher P. Cabry, Jose. N. Canongia Lopes, Matthew L. Costen, Lucia D'Andrea, Isabelle Grillo, Brooks C. Marshall, Kenneth G. McKendrick, Timothy K. Minton, Simon M. Purcell, Sarah Rogers, John M. Slattery, Karina Shimizu, Eric J. Smoll Jr., and Maria A. Tesa-Serrate

    Journal of Physical Chemistry B (2017) 121, 6002

    doi: 10.1021/acs.jpcb.7b01654

  • Pair-correlated stereodynamics for diatom-diatom rotational energy transfer: NO(A2Σ+) + N2

    Thomas F. M. Luxford, Thomas R. Sharples, Kenneth G. McKendrick and Matthew L. Costen

    Journal of Chemical Physics (2017) 147, 013912

    doi: 10.1063/1.4979487

  • A full list of publications can be found here


    About me

    I was promoted to Professor in Aug 2016, having worked my way up through the ranks at Heriot-Watt, where I have been employed since March 2000. I previously worked as a post-doc at Brookhaven National Lab in New York (1998 & 1999). I studied Chemistry at the University of Oxford, and completed my D.Phil there under the supervision of Prof Gus Hancock in Nov 1997.