Senior Research Fellow involved in Big Science to uncover the molecular processes essential to life

Femtochemistry experiments at the European XFEL (Copyright European XFEL / Rey.Hori)

While there may be a high level understanding of the processes which support life, there are still many unanswered questions at the deeper molecular level. Research lead by teams from Laurence Berkeley National Labs, Diamond Light Source and several other institutions are working together to unravel such questions using some of the world most powerful X-ray laser sources. These X-ray lasers such as: the European X-Ray Free-Electron Laser Facility ( European XFEL ) and the SPring-8 Angstrom Compact free electron Laser ( SACLA ) in Hyogo Japan, are being used to determine the atomic and electronic structures of molecular interactions in time-resolved experiments.

Time-resolved X-ray crystallography is being used to observe molecular interactions with 100 pico-second time resolution with the goal of observing molecules in action and determining protein kinematics and the structure of intermediate compounds in biological processes. Potential outcomes from the research include the development of powerful methods to time resolve molecular interactions and the enabling of a fundamental understanding of processes such as photosynthesis and antibiotic resistance.

Dr. Leen at the European XFEL facility in Hamburg, Germany. (Nov 2019) Dr. Leen at the Japanese XFEL facility in SACLA, Japan. (July 2019)

Dr. Leen is a member of the Electronic and Computer Engineering Department; an SFI funded researcher developing novel optical fibre based sensors for scientific, industrial and medical applications (grant no: 15/CDA/3598); a founder of the UL spin-out company PolyPico Technologies Ltd.; and has around 100 academic publications and over 1200 citations to his academic work.