In the Zernike Institute Advent Calendar, we are presenting 24 short spotlights in December. In these specials, we highlight PhD students, postdocs, support staff and technicians of our research groups and team - providing a glimpse in their typical day at work. In Episode 6 meet Dr. David Picconi
, Postdoc in the Theoretical & Computational Chemistry group of Prof. Shirin Faraji.
I am working as a postdoctoral researcher in the Theoretical & Computational Chemistry group at the Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials.
My research focuses on the development of computational techniques to simulate how molecules behave after absorbing ultraviolet or visible light. I apply these methods to simulate different types of problems in photochemistry, from the isomerization of molecular photoswitches and motors, to excited state proton or charge transfer. Understanding such light-induced processes at the elementary level is of fundamental importance for different fields like photo-catalysis, sensing or photo-pharmacology.
In particular, I am fascinated by the possible presence of quantum mechanical effects in the motion of the atomic nuclei during photoinduced molecular transformations. Therefore, I try to understand whether molecules can be understood, as usual, as "balls and sticks", or rather one needs to think of them as complex wave packets which obey the laws of quantum mechanics. Understanding whether quantum effects have a role in photochemistry and how we can observe them spectroscopically is a key aspect of my research.
Differently from the other areas of chemistry, all I need for my work are computers! No lab coat to wear! Therefore, I start my usual work day by checking the status of my simulations in our computer cluster, while drinking a cup of coffee. Often I spend a lot of time writing and testing new computer codes. One aspect of my work that I love is the possibility of interacting a lot with the other group members and helping each other to find the best strategies for our simulations.
When I am not working I like to be outside, riding the bike and jogging. I also relax myself with cooking, experimenting with new recipes... I see it as one way of doing chemistry experiments.
Contact: Dr. David Picconi
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