James Bull


  • 2.50 Chemistry

Accepting PhD Students

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Personal profile


James Bull is a lecturer in Ultrafast Chemical Physics, with research interests centred around the spectroscopy and dynamics of individual molecules. In the laboratory, this level of investigation is achieved by using lasers to probe molecules isolated in ultrahigh vacuum. In this environment, photoinduced reactions produce unique fingerprints, embedded in kinetic energies, angular distributions, and rotational/vibrational motion of products. By measuring these fingerprints and comparing with quantum chemical calculations, the reactivity and electronic structure of the parent molecules can be elucidated. Part of my work also involves understanding how solvation influences the ‘inherent’ properties of molecules. James is interested in applying his techniques to range of systems, including biochromophores such as the light-absorbing unit in green fluorescent protein and photoactive yellow protein, small technological molecules such as photoswitches and light-driven molecular machines, and photoactive ions possessing several different protonation/deprotonation sites or isomeric forms. A key outcome from this research field is development of state-of-the-art and instrumentation and techniques. In another project, James is interested in understanding some of the fundamental chemical physics relevant in astrochemistry, including ion formation and cooling mechanisms, photodestruction and photoresiliance.


James is originally from Christchurch, New Zealand, where he studied Chemistry at the University of Canterbury. He then moved to Oxford University on a Marie-Curie Fellowship to work in the group of Prof. Claire Vallance, where he developed two instruments for studying the dynamics of electron impact ionization. Next, James moved to Durham University to the ultrafast spectroscopy group of Prof. Jan Verlet, which used photoelectron spectroscopy to study isolated anions. James then relocated to Melbourne, Australia, where he worked in the group of Prof. Evan Bieske at the University of Melbourne, using ion mobility mass spectrometry coupled with laser spectroscopy to study photochemistry of shape-selected ions. James started at University of East Anglia in February 2019.

Teaching Interests

I teach Chemistry and Physics in the following modules:


CHE-5201B – Physical Chemistry II

PHY-5001B – Laboratory Physics

CHE-6001Y – Research Project

PHY-6004Y – Research Project

CHE-7201Y – Advanced Topics in Physical and Nanochemistry

PHY-7003B – Advanced Research Topics

Areas of Expertise

Areas of expertise include:

1. Gas-phase reaction dynamics

2. Laser and electronic spectroscopy

3. Electronic structure calculations

4. Vaccum technology & instrument development


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