Duncan Wild

Dr, BSc PhD Melb.

  • The University of Western Australia (M310), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


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Personal profile


Dr Duncan Wild completed a Bachelor of Science with Honours at the University of Melbourne, where he also undertook a PhD researching infrared spectroscopy of size-selected anion complexes and clusters.
In 2003 he received an Alexander Von Humbolt Fellowship to continue his research at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen Germany. During this time he investigated the timescales for energy relaxation of carotenoids, spectroscopy of neutral stilbene-alkane gas phase complexes, and assisted in the construction of a photoelectron spectrometer.
Dr Wild came to The University of Western Australia in 2007.

Roles and responsibilities

Academic Conduct Advisor, School of Molecular Sciences

Current projects

Ion complex and cluster photoelectron spectroscopy

From a fundamental viewpoint, our research is aimed at characterising ionic clusters to attain an enhanced understanding of intermolecular interactions and to provide intimate details on the transition states of chemical reactions. The experimental targets we will investigate are of the form X-...Mn, where X is a halide anion (F- , Cl- , Br- , or I- ) and M is a neutral molecule (for example CO, N2, NO, O2, C2H2).

The Time Of Flight mass spectrometer coupled to a PhotoElectron Spectrometer (TOF-PES) is the piece of apparatus we use in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. The machine enables us to characterise small complexes and clusters in the gas phase (see recent publications).
Using mass spectrometry we are able to select individual species out of the ensemble that we produce and ionise them using laser radiation.

Magnetic Bottle Photoelectron Spectrometer
The photoelectron spectrometer is a magnetic bottle type spectrometer, based on the design of Smalley and co-workers [Rev. Sci. Instrum. 58(11), 2131, (1987)]. A strong electromagnet produces a strongly divergent magnetic field, which maps onto a homogenous field within a flight tube. Ejected photoelectrons are captured, fly down the tube, and their time of flight is used to indicate their energy, and hence the origin. The flight tube, electromagnet, and other goodies were generously lent to us by Professor Mark Buntine (previously Adelaide, now Curtin University), and we are forever in his debt!

Velocity Map Imaging

We are in the process of constructing a new spectrometer which will produce results with far greater resolution. Check out our facebook page for the progress, http://www.facebook.com/uwalaserspectroscopygroup

ab initio calculations

This work is aimed at firstly predicting, and later on understanding, the results of the spectroscopic experiments. We aim to predict gas phase cluster structures, energetics, and transition intensities. Work is currently underway to produce multi dimensional potential energy surfaces to better characterise the ionic clusters we attack with the TOF PES apparatus. As a part of this work we will also characterise the analogous neutral complexes allowing us to simulate the spectrum we record.

Teaching overview

CHEM1001 Chemistry: Properties and Energetics

CHEM2002 Analytical and Physical Chemistry

CHEM3002 Chemical Explorations

CHEM3005 Chemical Spectroscopy and Structure


The research interests of the Wild research group are in the area of Physical Chemistry, however more specifically Laser Spectroscopy (both fundamental and applied spectroscopy).
We have constructed a spectrometer for recording photoelectron spectra of gas phase ionic complexes and clusters. The machine is a Time Of Flight mass spectrometer coupled to a PhotoElectron Spectrometer (or TOF-PES for short). Our group is also interested in supplementing the experimental results with high level theoretical calculations (ab initio, CCSD(T) with large basis sets, and CBS extrapolations).
Our new apparatus, a velocity map imaging spectrometer, is currently in the testing phase.

Research expertise keywords

  • Physical chemistry
  • Laser spectroscopy and computational chemistry
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Gas phase clusters and particles
  • Ab initio calculations


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