The Engel Group at The University of Chicago

The Engel Group strives to exploit femtosecond dynamics to steer and to control excited state reactivity. We use a combination of ultrafast spectroscopy, theory, synthesis, and biophysics to approach this problem.


Revealing Nature's Designs

Nature has had 2.4 billion years to evolve and engineer excited state dynamics. From photosynthesis to vision to photoenzymes, we examine natural mechanisms to steer excited states. Our goal is to isolate and identify new design principles to control quantum dynamics.

Steering Excited State Dynamics

Electronic excited states carry enough energy to make and break chemical bonds. Photochemistry operates outside the Born-Oppenheimer regime -- thereby escaping our standard chemical intuition. We seek new strategies to steer excited states and to control their reactivity.


Seeing the Unseen

You can't engineer what you can't see. We build new spectroscopic tools to probe femtosecond dynamics of electronic excitations. In living cells, protein complexes, and small molecules, we capture how these systems evolve with unprecedented depth and specificity.

Congratulations   11/15/2021

Sarah Zinn

Congratulations to Dr. Sarah Zinn on the successful defense of her doctoral dissertation!

Quals Passed   11/4/2021

Caitlin BelloraIndranil GhoshCoco LiQijie Shen

Congratulations to Caitlin Bellora, Indranil Ghosh, Coco Li, and Qijie Shen on passing their candidacy exams. Well done!

Good luck!   10/12/2021

Po-Chieh Ting

Good luck to Dr. Po-Chieh Ting as he starts his new position at EPA in California!

Congratulations   10/1/2021

Will Hollingsworth

Congratulations to Will Hollingsworth on accepting a job at Intel Corp.

Quantum Biology activities within the Engel Group

Quantum Biology

Ultrafast Spectroscopy activities within the Engel Group

Ultrafast Spectroscopy

Quantum Materials activities within the Engel Group

Quantum Materials

Photocatalysis activities within the Engel Group


Theory activities within the Engel Group


Coherent Dynamics activities within the Engel Group

Coherent Dynamics

Light Harvesting Materials activities within the Engel Group

Light Harvesting Materials

Ultrafast Chiral Response activities within the Engel Group

Ultrafast Chiral Response

Live Cell Studies activities within the Engel Group

Live Cell Studies

J.S. Higgins, W.R. Hollingsworth, L.T. Lloyd, and G.S. Engel, "Quantum Coherence in Chemical and Photobiological Systems", Emerging Trends in Chemical Applications of Lasers, ACS Symposium Series #1398, Edited by M.R. Berman, L. Young, and H.-L. Dai, ACS Books 2021

Y. Kim, F. Bertagna, E.M. D’Souza, D.J. Heyes, L.O. Johannissen, E.T. Nery, A. Pantelias, A. Sanchez-Pedreño Jimenez, L. Slocombe, M.G. Spencer, J. Al-Khalili, G.S. Engel, S. Hay, S.M. Hingley-Wilson, K. Jeevaratnam, A.R. Jones, D.R. Kattnig, R. Lewis, M. Sacchi, N.S. Scrutton, S.R.P. Silva, and J. McFadden, "Quantum Biology: An Update and Perspective", Quantum Rep. 3, 80-126 2021

University of Chicago
Chemistry Department
Biophysical Sciences
Institute for Molecular Engineering
James Franck Institute
Institute for Biophysical Dynamics
Lockheed Martin