The Chilton Group

Magnetism, Spectroscopy, Theory

Prof. Nicholas F. Chilton - Professor of Computational and Theoretical Chemistry
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Prof. Chilton obtained his BSc Adv Hons from Monash University (Melbourne, Australia) in 2011, with an Honours project under the supervision of Prof. Keith Murray, and his PhD from The University of Manchester in 2015 under the supervision of Prof. Richard Winpenny and Prof. Eric McInnes. He was a Ramsay Memorial Research Fellow from 2016-2018, a UoM Presidential Fellow from 2018-2019 and was a Royal Society University Research Fellow from 2019-2023. In 2015 he won the Dalton Young Researchers Award and in 2021 he won a Harrison-Meldola Memorial Prize, both from the Royal Society of Chemistry. In 2019 he won the 7th Olivier Kahn International Award from the European Institute for Molecular Magnetism, and in 2023 he won the Philip Leverhulme Prize.

Dr William Blackmore - PDRA (2020 - )
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Dr Blackmore obtained his undergraduate degree from Lancaster University in 2013, which included a study year abroad based at UNC Charlotte, USA. Following this, he completed a PhD in Physics at the University of Warwick under the supervision of Dr Paul Goddard studying magneto-structural correlations in low-dimensional quantum magnets. His research interests lie in understanding the relationship between composition, structure and magnetic properties of quantum magnets, and using this to study novel phenomena afforded by low-dimensional quantum systems. After two short postdoctoral positions at Warwick (the first developing a UV sensor for use in autonomous vehicles with Dr Gavin Bell, and the second a continuation of his PhD work with Dr Goddard), he joined the Chilton group working on the experimental arm of the ERC project "ContraVib: Chemical Control of Vibronic Coupling for Magnetic Materials". His work focuses on studying how phonons affect the magnetic relaxation in single-molecule magnets and molecular qubits.

Dr Andrea Mattioni - PDRA (2020 - )
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Dr Mattioni graduated in Physics at the University of Trieste, Italy, in 2013. During his MSc, he started working on coherent vibronic dynamics of photosynthetic complexes under the supervision of Dr Francesca Fassioli. In 2016, he moved to the group of Prof Martin Plenio at Ulm University, Germany, to pursue a PhD in Physics. His PhD focused on clarifying the mechanisms behind efficient energy transfer in biological and bio-inspired light-harvesting nanostructures, borrowing tools from the theory of open quantum systems. In 2020, after completing his thesis, Andrea moved to Manchester to join the Chilton group as a postdoc. Here, in collaboration with the group of Dr Ahsan Nazir in Physics, he is applying similar theoretical tools to investigate the interplay between molecular vibrations and magnetisation dynamics in single-molecule magnets, as part of the ERC project ContraVib.

Dr Benjamin Atkinson - PDRA (2022 - )
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Dr Atkinson obtained his undergraduate degree at The University of Oxford. His fourth year research project, supervised by Prof. Stuart Mackenzie, studied the structure and reactivity of bimetallic complexes. Ben then completed his PhD at The University of Manchester, supervised by Prof. Nikolas Kaltsoyannis. His PhD studied the electronic structure of uranium-containing molecules, mostly focussing on novel uranium-nitrogen bonding using both DFT and multiconfigurational methods. After finishing his PhD in 2020, Ben joined the Research IT team at Manchester, helping to support and develop high-performance computing services. He is now a PDRA in the Chilton group examining the magnetic coupling in radical-bridged dimetallics. In 2024, he moved from The University of Manchester to become the first Chilton group PDRA at The Australian National University.

Dr Nicolaj Kofod - PDRA (2023 - )
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Nicolaj hails from Copenhagen, where he completed his PhD with Prof. Thomas Just Sørensen. At the University of Copenhagen, he worked with lanthanide photophysics and the correlation between optical properties and molecular structures of lanthanide complexes. In 2023, after finishing his PhD, he was awarded an Internationalisation Fellowship from the Carlsberg Foundation to move from wet and grey Copenhagen to equally wet and grey Manchester to work as a postdoc in the Chilton group. Here, he will combine spectroscopy with computations to develop a methodology to determine the molecular solution structure of f-block complexes.

Dr Maxime Grasser - PDRA (2024 - )
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Dr Grasser spent two years in the preparatory classes of the Lycée Kléber of Strasbourg (France) before attending the École Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Rennes (ENSCR) in 2017. There, he obtained the degree of Chemical Engineer with a double diploma of Master of Science in molecular chemistry in 2020. After that, he switched to quantum chemistry and undertook his PhD at the University of Rennes (France) under the supervision of Prof. Boris Le Guennic. He developed and applied a methodology for the simulation of circular dichroism and circularly polarised luminescence phenomena of chiral lanthanide complexes. During his PhD, he won a scholarship from Rennes Métropole to go to the State University of New York at Buffalo (USA) to work with Prof. Jochen Autschbach, which enabled him to improve the tools for modelling the phenomenon of magnetochiral dichroism. He successfully defended his PhD in 2023 and was awarded two prizes (the Gineste prize for the best thesis in chemistry at the University of Rennes, and the PhD prize of the Bretagne - Pays de la Loire branch of the French Chemical Society). In 2024 he joined the Chilton group as a Postdoctoral Research Associate to study the spin dynamics of optical excited states using DFT and multiconfigurational methods.

Barak Alnami - PhD student (2020 - )
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Barak is a PhD student in the Chilton group. He graduated from Kuwait University with a first class B.Sc. degree, before undertaking his M.Sc. at The University of Manchester. His project was under the supervision of Dr Sam Hay, involving a computational study of the enzymatic activity of the prenylated flavin cofactor towards Diels-Alder cycloaddition using DFT. His PhD project is focused on using molecular dynamics and CASSCF methods to study paramagnetic MRI contrast agents their solvent dependence.

Yasmin Whyatt - PhD student (2020 - )
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Yasmin obtained a first class MChem degree from Manchester Metropolitan University. Her 3rd and 4th year MChem projects, supervised by Dr Stuart Langley, focused on the design and characterisation of highly axial dysprosium(III) single-molecule magnets. Yasmin's PhD project involves using spectroscopic techniques to gain insight into how vibrational modes affect magnetic relaxation.

Jakob Staab - PhD student (2020 - )
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Jakob obtained his Bachelor's degrees in Chemistry and Biomolecular Engineering from the Technische Universität Darmstadt in 2018. He then moved to Sweden to undertake his Master's degree in Theoretical Chemistry at Uppsala University. He carried out his degree project in Roland Lindh's group, where he worked on the implementation of solvent effects in electronic structure calculations using average solvent potential embedding. The aim of his PhD project in the Chilton group is the development of theoretical approaches to predict magnetic relaxation from ab initio calculations.

Reece Marsden - PhD student (2022 - )
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Reece completed his 4th year MChem project in the Chilton group studying exchange interactions in a series of f-block dimetallics using EPR simulations. Now a PhD student in the group, jointly supervised by Dr Marcus Webb in the Department of Mathematics, his project aims to improve current methods of modelling EPR spectra and involves the implementation of deflation algorithms into PHI.

William Morrillo - PhD student (2022 - )
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Will completed his MChem at the University of Liverpool in 2022. His 3rd and 4th year projects were supervised by Dr Matthew Dyer, where he focussed on calculating the structure and voltage of potassium-ion battery cathode materials. His PhD project involves examining the possibility of electric field control of single molecule magnets and qubits.

Edward Latham - PhD student (2023 - )
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Ed completed his MPhys at Lancaster University in 2022. His 4th year project employed machine learning techniques to study particle collisions at the LHC to examine CP Parity of the Higgs Boson. His PhD project is exploring design strategies for molecular qubits to support basic quantum computing algorithms. In 2024, he moved from The University of Manchester to become the first Chilton group PhD student at The Australian National University.

Toby Thompson - PhD student (2023 - )
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Toby completed his MChem at Durham University in 2023, using molecular dynamics simulations to investigate the phase behavior of liquid crystals under the supervision of Prof. Mark Wilson. His PhD project is focused on studying the dynamics of lanthanide contrast agents in solution to understand their paramagnetic NMR shifts.

Guanping Li - PhD student (2023 - )
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Guanping started his undergraduate studies at Nanjing University in 2016 and transferred to the University of Tokyo to complete his 3rd and 4th year. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Tokyo in 2020, supervised by Prof. Shin-ichi Ohkoshi. He continued with a Master’s degree at the University of Tokyo. In 2023, he became the first dual-award PhD student between The University of Manchester and the University of Tokyo, under joint supervision between Prof. Ohkoshi and Prof. Chilton. The main topic of his PhD project is focus on the development of multifunctional metal complexes exhibiting optical and magnetic switching, studied by optical, EPR, THz, Raman and IR spectroscopies.

Kholil Rahman - PhD student (2024 - )
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Kholil completed his MChem at The University of Manchester in 2023. His 4th year project focused on establishing a magneto-structural relationship of hypothetical bridged dysprosocenium complexes. Now as a PhD student, his project is focused on trying to understand the electronic structure of novel transition metal complexes, under the supervision of Prof. Nicholas Chilton, Prof. David Mills and Dr Meagan Oakley.


PDRA: Dr Michele Vonci (2016-2019), Dr Daniel Reta (2016-2021), Dr Marcus Giansiracusa (2019-2021), Dr Adam Woodward (2021-2022), Dr Jon Kragskow (2022), Dr Rizwan Nabi (2020-2023), Dr Gemma Gransbury (2020-2024), Dr Meagan Oakley (2022-2024)

PhD: Dr Marcus Giansiracusa (2016-2019), Dr Jon Kragskow (2018-2022), Dr Letitia Birnoschi (2018-2022), Dr Michael Godsall (2019-2024)

MSc: Christina Vlachou-Portari (2018/2019), Xinchao Feng (2021), Zheji Wang (2022), Zihan Zhang (2023)

MChem/Hons: Carys Williams (2015/2016), Michael Godsall (2016/2017), Ismaeel Ramzan (2016/2017), Jon Kragskow (2017/2018), Nyamedo Addae-Dapaah (2018/2019), Julia Evans and Felix Hall (2019/2020), Alannah Crockatt and Lily Eresen (2020/2021), Egor Zaytsev and Reece Marsden (2021/2022), Kholil Rahman (2022/2023)

Visitors: Emil Damgaard-Møller (Copenhagen, 2017), Ming-Yee Tsang (Oxford, 2019), Kunal Kumar (Tokyo, 2020), Leander Held (Berkeley, 2022), Chen Shen (Oxford, 2023)