Prof. Matthew L. Costen: Homepage
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 Programme Grant EP/T021675/1 'New Directions in Molecular Scattering'
I am a co-investigator on this grant, along with principal investigator Ken McKendrick, and co-investigators Martin Paterson and Stuart Greaves. This is a 'Programme' grant, which funds all of our work in molecular scattering dynamics. It is jointly held with Prof Mark Brouard, Prof Claire Vallance and Prof Stuart Mackenzie at the University of Oxford.
EPSRC Grant EP/T03114X/1 'Ionic-Liquid Mixtures: from Surface Structure to Catalytic Performance'
I am a co-investigator on this Standard mode grant, which is led by Ken McKendrick. It is a joint grant with our collaborators Prof Duncan Bruce and Prof John Slattery at the University of York. At Heriot-Watt, we are using Al atoms, produced in a laser ablation source, as a novel reactive atom probe of ionic liquid surface chemical structures, in particular elucidating the presence of F-atoms at the IL surface.
Recent Research Funding
EPSRC Grant EP/P001459/1 'Dynamical Chemical Processes'
I was a co-investigator on this grant, along with principal investigator Ken McKendrick, and co-investigators Martin Paterson, Dave Townsend and Stuart Greaves. This was a 'Platform' grant, enabling us to retain our core post-doctoral staff and to develop their careers. We used it to develop our collaborations between experiment and theory, both internally and with external collaborators. We were also able to perform 'proof-of-concept' studies, which paved the way for our current Programme and Standard mode grants.
EPSRC Grant EP/M021823/1 'Reactive Scattering Dynamics at the Gas-Liquid Interface: Bridging the Gap between the Gas-Phase and Solution'
I was the principal investigator on this grant, along with co-investigators Ken McKendrick and Stuart Greaves, which used NIR and IR Frequency-Modulated Transient Absorption Spectroscopy to study of reactive and inelastic collisions of CN and HCN with gas-liquid interfaces. It was co-funded with a theoretical project (EP/M022129/1) led by Dr Dave Glowacki (Bristol, UK).
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.
Non-intuitive rotational reorientation in collisions of NO(A2Σ+) with Ne from direct measurement of a four-vector correlation
Nature Chemistry (2018) 10, 1148
Collision-Energy Dependence of the Uptake of Hydroxyl Radicals at Atmospherically Relevant Liquid Surfaces
Journal of Physical Chemistry C (2018) 122, 6648
Determining the composition of the vacuum liquid interface in ionic-liquid mixtures
Faraday Discussions (2018) 206, 497
Nanosegregation and Structuring in the Bulk and at the Surface of Ionic-Liquid Mixtures
Journal of Physical Chemistry B (2017) 121, 6002
Pair-correlated stereodynamics for diatom-diatom rotational energy transfer: NO(A2Σ+) + N2
Journal of Chemical Physics (2017) 147, 013912
A full list of publications can be found here
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.