Alistair Lees spends much of his research time hoping to see the light.
Using tools that improve by several orders of magnitude on the accuracy of microscopes and stopwatches, Lees is working at the molecular level to explore the effect of light on chemical systems. The field is called photochemistry and Lees’ efforts could help to find less-expensive ways to produce gasoline, make the environment cleaner and safer, and enhance the quality of microcircuitry and the equipment that relies on it.
While most chemists work with molecules in their ground or normal states, Lees has spent the past two decades working with "excited" molecules, a state attained when molecules absorb light, known as second chemistry.
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