Bradley Siwick

Canada Research Chair in Ultrafast Science

Tier 2 - 2006-02-01
Renewed: 2011-10-01
McGill University
Natural Sciences and Engineering


Coming to Canada from

FOM - Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics (AMOLF), The Netherlands

Research involves

Combining lasers and modified electron microscopes to determine the atomic structure of molecules and materials during chemical reactions and structural transformations.

Research relevance

The research is clarifying the relationship between atomic structure and material properties, which lies at the heart of current work in advanced materials.

Making Movies of Molecules

Imagine being able to actually watch—at the atomic level—the progress of a chemical reaction or the structural transformation of a material. What would we see?

Canada Research Chair Bradley Siwick intends to find out. He heads a laboratory at McGill University that is engaged in developing a special kind of movie camera that can capture changes to the structure of molecules during chemical reactions, where atoms one ten-millionth of a millimetre in size are rearranged in less than one trillionth of a second.

Siwick's "molecular movie camera" can see atoms and operate at frame-rates faster than atomic motions so that the details aren't blurred. The camera has numerous technological applications, particularly in those fields that are trying to harness atomic motions in molecules and materials for electronic and advanced materials applications.

This singular achievement unites the tools and techniques of electron microscopy with those of laser spectroscopy, providing a fresh look at the dynamics of materials and molecules and exciting new insights into structure-property relationships.

Soon, with the help of Siwick and his colleagues, we'll no longer need to imagine what atoms are doing-we'll be able to see for ourselves.