Professor of Theoretical Chemistry
Electrons in molecules are governed by the basic laws that shape quantum mechanics. One way to study the properties of molecular materials is to expose them to varying wavelengths of light. The electromagnetic fields of the light affect the movement of the electrons. Furthermore, transitions between different quantised energy levels can be developed using visible, ultraviolet or X-ray light. In this way, plants in nature can harvest energy from the sun’s rays and convert it into chemical energy, and the molecules’ chromophores (light-absorbing atomic groups) provide colour to the materials. This absorption of light can also be used under controlled laboratory conditions, and is then called spectroscopy. Spectroscopy is a method that can provide knowledge regarding molecules’ properties and chemical composition.
Patrick Norman’s research contributes to the development of methods and algorithms to effectively and accurately calculate the interactions between light and molecular materials. Thus, the research also contributes to a better understanding of the results in complicated molecular experiments. This includes understanding the DNA structure’s connection to its chirality (important symmetry property). Calculations require access to so-called supercomputers, i.e. large clusters of computers connected by optic fibres.