Greg Engel Professor

Greg Engel

Greg Engel
Professor at The University of Chicago

Miller Fellow, UC Berkeley 2005-2007
Ph.D., Harvard University, 2004
A.M., Harvard University, 2001
A.B., Princeton University, 1999

GCIS E119
929 East 57th Street
Chicago, IL 60637 USA

Chemistry Department Page
Biophysical Sciences Page
Molecular Engineering Page

gsengel@engelgroup.uchicago.edu
(773)-834-0818

Research in the Engel Group focuses on excited state reactivity including excitonic transport, non-radiative relaxation to photochemical products, and new methods to image excited state dynamics. Excited states in the condensed phase have an extremely high chemical potential thereby making them highly reactive and difficult to control. Our control strategy involves exploiting coherent response of the environment to the excitation event. In particular, we develop methodologies to manipulate two fundamental components of excited state dynamics: exciton migration and non-radiative relaxation.

Our approach is inspired by biological systems optimized by evolution to exploit manifestly quantum mechanical phenomena to drive coherent energy transfer, to steer trajectories through conical intersections and to protect long-lived quantum coherence. Currently, we are focusing on four key scientific efforts: (1) new techniques to image excited state dynamics, (2) understanding mechanisms of quantum transport in photosynthesis, (3) dynamics of conical intersections in the condensed phase, and (4) engineering quantum dynamics in new classes of synthetic materials.

The Engel Group program explores the interface between biology and quantum mechanics by creating new tools to explore design principles of coherent processes in proteins. Photosynthetic light harvesting and photoenzymatic dynamics exploit coherent protein motions for chemical control in a way that we do not yet fully understand. For example, Photosynthetic antenna complexes operate with near perfect quantum efficiency and steer excitonic motion with exquisite precision. These complexes exploit both incoherent (Förster) energy transfer along with coherent (wavelike) motion of energy in a process called Environmentally Assisted Quantum Transport that offers quantum efficiency superior to either mechanism alone. The Engel group seeks to isolate and copy the microscopic details of this process. In particular, we want to know if the process is a result of evolutionary fine-tuning and, regardless, how we can enable coherent energy transfer in synthetic systems for light harvesting, sensing, and communications.

To probe these systems, we design new femtosecond spectrometers to observe how electronic states couple to one another much the way COSY NMR explores nuclear spin coupling. Exploiting this analogy, we recently developed the first optical analog to MRI for rapid detection electronic couplings. The Engel group is strongly interdisciplinary; graduate students matriculate through Chemistry and the Biophysical Sciences while postdoctoral scholars have PhDs in Chemistry or Physics. The group contains pure theorists, organic chemists, inorganic chemists, physical chemists, physicists, and biophysicists. Engel and his lab members collaborate with physicists, biologists, engineers, and corporate partners to develop new technologies and new science.

Born: 9/23/1977, West Chester, PA, USA.
Princeton University, A.B., 1999
Harvard University, A.M., 2001
Harvard University, Ph.D., 2004
Harvard University, Postdoctoral Scholar, 2004-2005
University of California, Berkeley, Postdoctoral Fellow, 2005-2007
University of Chicago, Professor, 2007-

  • 2017 World Economic Forum Young Scientist
  • 2016-2017 Chair, ACS Physical Chemistry (PHYS) Division
  • 2016 Vannevar Bush Fellow (DoD)
  • 2014 DoD NSSEFF Award
  • 2013 FACSS Innovation Award
  • 2013 Defense Science Study Group Member for 2014-2015
  • 2012 Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Undergraduate Teaching
  • 2012 Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award
  • 2012 Sloan Research Fellowship
  • 2012 Coblentz Award
  • 2010 DTRA Young Investigator Award
  • 2010 DARPA Young Faculty Award
  • 2009 PECASE Recipient
  • 2009 Searle Scholar
  • 2008 AFOSR Young Investigator Program
  • 2007 Scientific American Top 50 Leaders in Research
  • 2007 Camille and Henry Dreyfus New Faculty Award
  • 2005-2007 Miller Research Fellow
  • 2003-2004 EPA STAR Fellow
  • 1999-2002 NSF Graduate Research Fellow
  • 1994 Eagle Scout

M. Bednarz, J. Lapin, R. McGillicuddy, K.M. Pelzer, G.S. Engel, and G.B. Griffin, "Modeling Ultrafast Exciton Migration Within the Electron Donor Domains of Bulk Heterojunction Organic Photovoltaics" J. Phys. Chem. C, 121, 5467–5479 2017.

L. Wang, G.B. Griffin, A. Zhang, F. Zhai, N.E. Williams, R.F. Jordan, and G.S. Engel, "Controlling quantum-beating signals in 2D electronic spectra by packing synthetic heterodimers on single-walled carbon nanotubes" Nature Chemistry 9, 219–225 2017.

L. Wang, N.E. Williams, E.W. Malachosky, J.P. Otto, D. Hayes, R.E. Wood, P. Guyot-Sionnest, and G.S. Engel, "Scalable Ligand-Mediated Transport Synthesis of Organic-Inorganic Hybrid Perovskite Nanocrystals with Resolved Electronic Structure and Ultrafast Dynamics" ACS Nano, "Article ASAP"

Y. Zhang, A. Wirthwein, F.H. Alharbi, G.S. Engel, and S. Kais., "Dark states enhance the photocell power via phononic dissipation" Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 18, 31845-31849 2016.

M.A. Allodi, P.D. Dahlberg, R.J. Mazuski, H.C. Davis, J.P. Otto, and G.S. Engel, "Optical resonance imaging: An optical analog to MRI with sub-diffraction-limited capabilities" ACS Photonics 3, 2445–2452 2016.

C. Wang*, M.L. Flanagan*, R.D. McGillicuddy, H. Zheng, A.R. Ginzburg, X. Yang, K. Moffat, and G.S. Engel, "Bacteriophytochrome Photoisomerization Proceeds Homogeneously Despite Heterogeneity in Ground State" Biophysical Journal 111, 2125–2134 2016.

***Highlighted as a "New and Notable" contribution.***

B.S. Rolczynski, Polina Navotnaya, H.R. Sussman and G.S. Engel, "Cysteine-mediated mechanism disrupts energy transfer to prevent photooxidation" PNAS 113, 8562–8564 2016.

P.D. Dahlberg,* P.-C. Ting,* S.C. Massey, E.C. Martin, C.N. Hunter, and G.S. Engel, "Electronic Structure And Dynamics Of Higher-Lying Excited States In Light Harvesting Complex 1 From Rhodobacter sphaeroides" J. Phys. Chem. A, 120 4124–4130 2016.

M.L. Flanagan, P.D. Long, P.D. Dahlberg, B.S. Rolczynski, S.C. Massey, and G.S. Engel, "Mutations to R. sphaeroides Reaction Center Perturb Energy Levels and Vibronic Coupling but Not Observed Energy Transfer Rates" J. Phys. Chem. A, 120 1479-1487 2016.

C. She, I. Fedin, D.S. Dolzhnikov, P.D. Dahlberg, G.S. Engel, R.D. Schaller, D.V. Talapin, "Red, Yellow, Green, and Blue Amplified Spontaneous Emission and Lasing Using Colloidal CdSe Nanoplatelets" ACS Nano. 9, 9475–9485 2015.

Greg Engel

World Economic Forum Young Scientist Award 3/16/2017

Greg Engel named one of the World Economic Forum's 50 Young Scientists for 2017.

Lili WangGraham GriffinAlice ZhangNick Williams

Paper Published 2/21/2017

Congratulations to Lili Wang, Graham Griffin, Alice Zhang, Nick Williams, and our collaborators in the Jordan Group on having their paper, entitled "Controlling quantum-beating signals in 2D electronic spectra by packing synthetic heterodimers on single-walled carbon nanotubes" published in Nature Chemistry.

Lili WangNick WilliamsJohn OttoDugan HayesRyan Wood

Paper Accepted 2/15/2017

Congratulations to Lili Wang, Nick Williams, John Otto, Dugan Hayes, and Ryan Wood along with our collaborators in the Guyot-Sionnest Group on having their paper entitled, "Scalable Ligand-Mediated Transport Synthesis of Organic-Inorganic Hybrid Perovskite Nanocrystals with Resolved Electronic Structure and Ultrafast Dynamics," accepted to ACS Nano.

Cheng Moira FlanaganRyan McGillicuddyHaibin ZhengRuvim Ginzburg

Paper Published 11/15/2016

Congratulations to Wave Wang, Moira Flanagan, Ryan McGillicuddy, Haibin Zheng, and Ruvim Ginzburg on their paper, entitled "Bacteriophytochrome Photoisomerization Proceeds Homogeneously Despite Heterogeneity in Ground State", publishing in Biophysical Journal. Thanks also to our collaborators, Profs. Keith Moffat and Xiaojing Yang.

Marco AllodiPete DahlbergRichard MazuskiHunter DavisJohn Otto

Paper Published 11/8/2016

Congratulations to Marco Allodi, Pete Dahlberg, Richard Mazuski, Hunter Davis and John Otto on having their paper entitled, "Optical resonance imaging: An optical analog to MRI with sub-diffraction-limited capabilities" published in ACS Photonics

Greg Engel

Chair of the PHYS Division of ACS 8/27/2016

Greg Engel is now the Chair of the Physical Chemistry (PHYS) Division of the American Chemical Society.

Pete DahlbergPo-Chieh TingSara Massey

Paper Accepted 5/26/2016

Congratulations to Pete Dahlberg, Po-Chieh Ting, Sara Massey and co-authors on having their paper entitled "Electronic Structure And Dynamics Of Higher-Lying Excited States In Light Harvesting Complex 1 From Rhodobacter sphaeroides" accepted to Journal of Physical Chemistry A.

Pete DahlbergGraham NorrisCheng Subha ViswanathanVed Singh

Editors' Choice Selection 3/10/2016

Congratulations to Pete Dahlberg, Graham Norris, Wave Wang, Subha Viswanathan, and Ved Singh on having their paper selected for the 2015 JCP Editor's Choice as one of the top papers of 2015.

Moira FlanaganPhil LongPete DahlbergBrian RolczynskiSara Massey

Paper Accepted 12/1/2015

Congratulations to Moira Flanagan, Phil Long, Pete Dahlberg, Brian Rolczynski, Sara Massey, and co-authors on having her paper entitled, "Mutations to R. sphaeroides Reaction Center Perturb Energy Levels and Vibronic Coupling but Not Observed Energy Transfer Rates" accepted to the Journal of Physical Chemistry!

Greg Engel

Promotion 9/3/2014

Greg Engel has been promoted to the rank of Professor at The University of Chicago.