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Last updated
October 2023

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Dr. Stuart J. Greaves

Dynamics and Structure
Institute of Chemical Sciences
Heriot-Watt University
Edinburgh EH14 4AS
Phone: +44 (0)131 451 4165

E-mail: s.j.greaves@hw.ac.uk
O2 dissociation VMI image

Research Overview

I study molecular reaction dynamics using complimentary experimental and theoretical methods. The mechanisms of a variety of atom + molecule reactions are studied theoretically using Quasi-Classical trajectories both on-the-fly and on ab initio potential energy surfaces. Experimentally I use the velocity map ion-imaging technique to measure reaction differential cross-sections. The reaction systems currently under study are described in more detail in the research section of this site, but recent successes are described in brief below.

A PhD position is available to study molecular reaction dynamics in 2023

Application should be made via the Universities website: http://www.hw.ac.uk/student-life/how-to-apply/postgraduate.htm , but all inquiries should be directed to Dr Greaves in the first instance.

Ultrafast reaction dynamics in solution
The newest experimental strand of my research looks beyond the gas-phase to study the dynamics of solution phase reactions in 'real time' using ultrafast lasers. As part of a team from the Bristol Laser Chemistry group, I participated in a series of ground breaking condensed phase dynamics experiments conducted at the ULTRA laser facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in September 2009 and May/June 2010 (total of 5 weeks access time). A manuscript describing this work has recently been published in the journal Science (full reference below) along with a perspective article from Prof. Stephen Bradforth, see also the comment in Nature Chemistry from F. Flemming Crim, press releases from the STFC and Bristol University. A more in depth exploration of this work has been published in the Journal of Chemical Physics here and has been chosen as one of their research highlights, which can be found here.

Tug-of-War inelastic collisions in the H + D2 reaction
This work has been carried out with Eckart Wrede and in collaboration with the group of Richard N. Zare and their reaction dynamics experiment. Trajectory movies of this molecular tug-of-war which can be seen here.
This work has been published in the journal Nature, see reference below, also the press release on the University of Bristol home page, here and the story on the School of Chemistry news site.

Current Research Funding

EPSRC Grant EP/J002534/2 'Dynamics of Gas-Liquid Reactions; The Pseudo-Surface Approach'

I have been awarded an EPSRC Career Acceleration Fellowship to use high resolution gas phase reaction dynamics methodologies to study reactive and inelastic collisions that mimic gas-liquid interactions, further details can be found here.

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

I am a co-investigator on this grant, along with Ken McKendrick, while Matt Costen is the principal investigator. The project 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).

Selected Publications

Vibrational relaxation and microsolvation of DF after F-atom reactions in polar solvents

Greg T. Dunning, David R. Glowacki, Thomas J. Preston, Stuart J. Greaves, Gregory M. Greetham, Ian P. Clark, Michael Towrie, Jeremy N. Harvey and Andrew J. Orr-Ewing,

Science 347 530–533 (2015)

doi: 10.1126/science.aaa0103

Vibrationally resolved dynamics of the reaction of Cl atoms with 2,3-dimethylbut-2-ene in chlorinated solvents.

Fawzi Abou-Chahine, Stuart J. Greaves, Greg T. Dunning, Andrew J. Orr-Ewing, Gregory M. Greetham, Ian P. Clark and Michael Towrie,

Chemical Science, 4 226–237, (2013).


Science Front cover

Science report and front cover:

Vibrationally quantum-state-specific reaction dynamics of H atom abstraction by CN radical in solution.

S.J. Greaves, R.A. Rose, T.A.A. Oliver, D.R. Glowacki, M.N.R. Ashfold, J.N. Harvey, I.P. Clark, G.M. Greetham, A.W. Parker, M. Towrie and A.J. Orr-Ewing,

Science, 331 1423–1426, (2011).


PCCP Front cover

Velocity map imaging of the dynamics of bimolecular reactions.

S.J. Greaves, R.A. Rose and A.J. Orr-Ewing,

Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 12 9129 (2010).


Vibrational excitation through tug-of-war inelastic collisions.

S. J. Greaves, E. Wrede, N. T. Goldberg, J. Zhang, D. J. Miller, R. N. Zare

Nature, 454 88–91, (2008).


A full list of publications can be found here

About me

I am an EPSRC Career Acceleration Fellow working with the Chemical Dynamics Group in the Institute of Chemical Sciences at Heriot-Watt University.

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