Atomically Resolved Dynamics Department
Director: R.J. Dwayne Miller
The Atomically Resolved Dynamics Department is one of the two founding core research programs of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD). R. J. Dwayne Miller officially took up the position as Director on July 1, 2013. The MPSD, itself, officially came into being on January 1, 2014.
The Science. The main research theme is well captured in the name. The world is dynamic not static. The vision for this division is to take up the charge to directly observe the primary processes governing structural dynamics over all relevant space-time relationships. To this end, there have been enormous strides in developing ultrabright electron sources that are capable of literally lighting up atomic motions. The spatial coherence of these sources is now sufficient to bring even complex biological systems into atomic focus. In parallel, there is a research thrust on coherent multidimensional spectroscopic methods from the deep UV to midIR, further complemented with a laser source development program. This additional “dimension” to the research program provides the quantum state dynamics or electronic degrees of freedom to fully construct the operating forces at play in driving structural transitions.
The research problems cover the direct observation of the key modes governing chemical and biological processes to strongly driven phase transitions and coherent control of matter waves. This research is leading towards a dynamical (modal) basis to understand how matter interconverts from one form to another. In this respect, one of the grand challenges and unifying research themes is to resolve the structure-function relationship in biological systems. How do the specific, highly evolved structures of proteins/biomolecules direct the chemistry essential to life? The answer to this question will help us go to the next length scale in control over molecular and material properties.