School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Staff Profile

Dr Thomas Penfold

Lecturer in Computational and Theoretical Chemistry


I started the position of lecturer in theoretical chemistry at Newcastle in September 2015. I completed my PhD in 2010 at the University of Birmingham, supervised by Graham Worth. After this I spent three years at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland in the group of Majed Chergui. I worked in close collaboration with the experiments performed within the group, analysing the understanding their data, particularly static and time-resolved X-ray absorption spectroscopy. I then move to the Paul Scherrer Institute, Switzerland, working as a research scientist on the Swiss Free Electron Laser Project developing computational approaches for simulating and interpreting femtosecond time-resolved X-ray absorption and emission experiments. 

Research in my group focuses on understanding excited state processes and dynamics at a molecular level with the ultimate goal to use this fundamental knowledge to design better and more efficient solar cells, photocatalysts and/or light emitting diodes.

Area of Expertise

Excited State Dynamics and Time-resolved Spectroscopy

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Research in the Penfold group focuses upon theoretical and computation studies of photoexcited dynamics over a wide variety of time and length scales. These are performed in order to achieve a sophisticated understanding of molecules and their excited state properties, of particular relevance to applications such as solar cells, photocatalysis and organic light emitting diodes.   

To achieve this, we employ and develop a variety of theoretical and computational approaches. We are especially interested in approaches to quantum dynamics, i.e. solving the time-dependent Schroedinger equation.

Where ever possible we also try to combine our simulations with experimental studies, such as ultrafast pump-probe spectroscopy. We are especially interested in simulations associated with new and exciting experiments made possible from the development of X-ray free electron lasers.

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Undergraduate Teaching

Postgraduate Teaching