Philippe Wernet

Professor at Department of Physics and Astronomy, X-ray Photon Science

+4618-471 3540
Mobile phone:
+46 72 9999707
Visiting address:
Room ÅNG 60107 Ångströmlaboratoriet, Lägerhyddsvägen 1

Postal address:
Box 516
751 20 UPPSALA

Short presentation

I watch chemical reactions as they take place. X-ray lasers, synchrotrons and lab sources with short X-ray pulses are my high-speed cameras. I use them to select which atomic site in a molecule I look at and which orbital I follow in real time of the reaction. I study small molecules, metal complexes and metalloenzymes to discover basic principles that drive their transformations and that determine how they work.

Read our Science paper and see our program on Chemical and Bio-Molecular Physics.

Since 2021 Head of the Chemical and Bio-Molecular Physics research program at the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Uppsala University

Since 2019 Professor in Photon Science at the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Uppsala University

2003 - 2019 Staff scientist at Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (BESSY II, Berlin, Germany)

2012 Habilitation in physics at Technische Universität Berlin (Germany)

2001 - 2002 Postdoc at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (SSRL, Stanford, USA)

2000 Postdoc at Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY, Hamburg, Germany)

2000 PhD in experimental physics at Universität Hamburg (Germany)

Serving in the Scientific Advisory Committees at the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, USA), European XFEL (Hamburg, Germany), and Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste (Italy).

We are working on three main topics:

  1. Coupling of electronic, spin and nuclear coordinates in the photo-induced dynamics of molecules
  2. Photochemical bond activation by metal complexes
  3. Local chemistry of bond-activating metalloproteins

We want to understand, predict and ultimately control the excited-state dynamics of molecules and metal complexes. Probing the coupling of transient electronic structure and nuclear dynamics forms the basis for understanding photocatalytic processes.

We want to explain how metal complexes activate inert bonds. Developing a fundamental understanding of bond activation is the first step of learning how to engineer chemical bonds.

We want to probe the chemical interactions of metal atoms and ions in metalloproteins and how these evolve during a reaction. Learning from nature how to efficiently transform molecules will help us develop new concepts for catalysis.

The foundation of our research is to find new ways of coupling experiments and theory in x-ray spectroscopy. We develop new experimental methods at large-scale x-ray facilities and at lab-based x-ray sources. We want to make available new observables and we work closely with theory groups in quantum chemistry and molecular dynamics to further extend the information content of x-ray spectroscopy.

Our research is part of the Chemical and Bio-Molecular Physics research program.

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Philippe Wernet