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Tony Horsewill

Professor of Physics,

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Research Summary

My research is focussed on exploring the effects that the wave-like properties of matter have on the dynamics of atoms and molecules. These characteristics are often observed in the form of quantum… read more

Selected Publications

Current Research

My research is focussed on exploring the effects that the wave-like properties of matter have on the dynamics of atoms and molecules. These characteristics are often observed in the form of quantum tunnelling whereby a potential barrier that would be impervious to a classical particle can readily be penetrated by one described by quantum mechanics. In my research group we investigate the quantum tunnelling of atoms and molecular sub-groups through Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) and Inelastic Neutron Scattering (INS) experiments, usually at cryogenic temperatures. We have a special interest in the fundamental relationship between quantum and classical mechanics and our experimental investigations are designed to precisely measure and explore the dynamics in the quantum and (pseudo-) classical regimes.

To explore molecular dynamics in the quantum regime usually requires specialised experimental techniques. To this end, in my Nottingham laboratory I have developed novel techniques involving Field-Cycling NMR. A unique spectrometer has been custom built to directly measure the motional spectrum of atoms and molecules as a function of temperature. This has been employed to investigate motions such as proton transfer in the hydrogen bond (the simplest chemical reaction) and the rotations of molecular groups, e.g. the methyl rotor (CH3).

Substantial quantum effects are also observed arising from the Pauli Exclusion Principle. This occurs for molecular rotors such as CH3 and H2. Recently we have used inelastic neutron scattering at the Institut Laue-Langevin in Grenoble to investigate the quantum dynamics of molecular hydrogen that is entrapped inside fullerene cages. These are the endofullerenes and our experiments reveal the quantisation of molecular rotations and translations; the latter is often referred to as 'quantum rattling' and is a beautiful practical example of the classic particle-in-a-box referred to in quantum mechanics textbooks. The existence of spin-isomers of H2 arising from the Exclusion Principle adds to the beauty of the system and the quantum effects it reveals.

For more details see the Quantum Molecular Tunnelling web page.

Current Teaching

F34PJM MSci Physics Research Project

F32CO2 The Quantum World

School of Physics and Astronomy

The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham NG7 2RD

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