Introduction

I am a Senior Lecturer in the School of Physical Sciences at The Open University. My research is mainly on electron collisions with molecules and molecular clusters. Current research projects include:

  • the application of the R-matrix method to the study of electronically elastic and inelastic processes in electron collisions with biologically relevant molecules, particularly the formation of resonances.
  • the re-engineering and development of a set of high-quality, developer- and user-friendly, Atomic and Molecular high performance computing codes to treat both electron photon interactions with polyatomic molecules.
  • the study of microhydration effects on electron scattering from biologically relevant molecules.

I am a member of the Commission on Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics (C15) of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics and the Atomic and Molecular Interactions Group of the IOP.

PhD projects available for 2019

More details and information on how to apply can be found: here. For an informal discussion of the project contact Jimena directly: Jimena.Gorfinkiel@open.ac.uk. The deadline for applications is 15 February at noon.

Electron and positron scattering data for radiation bio-matter modelling

Scattering cross section data are required as inputs for modelling software devised to quantitatively assess radiation dose and radiation induced damage in biological matter. Recent developments in the UKRmol+ software suite have made it possible to perform more accurate calculations of electron and positron scattering cross sections from molecules and small molecular clusters than ever before. A methodological gap remains, however, related to how to use this data to model the effects of radiation on soft-condensed material. The project will involve:

1) Determining cross sections for a range of small and mid-size molecules using HPC facilities, liaising with track structure and non-equilibrium charged particle transport modellers to establish greatest data needs.

2) Developing an approach to adapting the gas phase/cluster data to the modelling of e-/e+ scattering from molecules in gases and soft-condensed (disordered) materials.

3) Implementing required software developments in the UKRmol+ and related suites.

The project is linked to a collaboration with several Australian universities entitled Positrons in biosystems. This project provides an opportunity to develop programming and high performance computing skills while investigating fascinating molecular physics phenomena. It is therefore particularly suitable for a student interested in scientific software development and the use of atomic and molecular data in medical applications.

Electron impact neutral dissociation of triatomic molecules

It is well known that low energy electrons can site-selectively break molecules via a process known as dissociative electron attachment (DEA). Some of the products formed in DEA can be highly reactive (anions, neutral radicals) and therefore initiate other chemical process. Another electron induced process that can lead to the formation of radicals is neutral dissociation. Despite decades of intense experimental and theoretical activity on DEA, little work has been performed on neutral dissociation. However, a full description of, for example, low temperature industrial plasmas used for etching, requires the inclusion of this process. We will calculate cross sections for neutral dissociation via electronic excitation for triatomic molecules. We will develop and apply an approach involving the use of the R-matrix method and the UKRmol+ suite to determine the cross sections for the excitation step and an approach previously used successfully to study predissociation of H2O+ to describe the dissociation. The first system to be studied will be water due to its relevance in the description of radiation damage in biological systems.