Unravelling the structure of molecules

Monday 30 October 2023, 4:30 pm
PhD student
K.J. Houthuijs
prof. dr. J. Oomens
dr. J.K. Martens, dr. W.C.M. Berden

The chemical properties of a molecule, and hence its function on a larger scale, depend entirely on its structure. It is therefore not enough to simply detect molecules; rather, it is essential to uncover their molecular structures. However, determining these structures precisely remains a major challenge to this day. A recent development in this field is the infrared ion spectroscopy (IRIS) technique. A measured IR spectrum can be seen as a fingerprint of a molecule which can be used to identify its structure. In this PhD thesis, the IRIS technique is developed further and applied to identify water contaminants and metabolites (small molecules) in blood plasma. In addition, we use IRIS to elucidate the structure of ionic intermediates in organic chemical reactions. In this way, we contribute to a chemical model for understanding, predicting, and ultimately fine-tuning chemical reactivity. 

Kas Houthuijs (1994) obtained his Master's degree in Physical Chemistry from Radboud University in 2019. That same year, he started his PhD project under the supervision of Prof J. Oomens, Dr J. Martens and Dr G. Berden at the HFML-FELIX laboratory. For four years, Kas has worked on further developing infrared ion spectroscopy and applying this technique in analytical and organic chemistry.