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.

Paper Published   3/8/2021

Jake HigginsLawson LloydSara SohailMarco AllodiJohn OttoRyan WoodPo-Chieh Ting

Congratulations to Jake Higgins, Lawson Lloyd, Sara Sohail, Marco Allodi, John Otto, Ryan Wood, Po-Chieh Ting and our collaborators in the Blankenship Group on their paper being published in PNAS. The paper is entitled, "Photosynthesis tunes quantum-mechanical mixing of electronic and vibrational state to steer exciton energy transfer".

Paper Accepted   3/4/2021

Brian RolczynskiShu-Hao YehPolina NavotnayaLawson LloydRuvim GinzburgHaibin ZhengMarco AllodiJohn Otto

Congratulations to Brian Rolczynski, Shu-Hao Yeh, Polina Navotnaya, Lawson Lloyd, Ruvim Ginzburg, Haibin Zheng, Marco Allodi, John Otto and our collaborators in the Cogdell and Kais Groups on their paper entitled, ",Time-domain Line-shape Analysis from 2D Spectroscopy to Precisely Determine Hamiltonian Parameters for a Photosynthetic Complex" being accepted to J. Phys Chem B.

ACS CHAS Award   3/3/2021

Sarah Zinn

Congratulations to Sarah Zinn on receiving the ACS Chemical Health and Safety Graduate Student Safety Leadership Award!

Welcome   2/25/2021

Rudy Mendez Reina

Welcome to Rudy Mendez Reina, who is joining the group from the Biophysical Sciences Program.

area.title activities within the Engel Group

Quantum Biology

area.title activities within the Engel Group

Ultrafast Spectroscopy

area.title activities within the Engel Group

Quantum Materials

area.title activities within the Engel Group


area.title activities within the Engel Group


area.title activities within the Engel Group

Coherent Dynamics

area.title activities within the Engel Group

Light Harvesting Materials

area.title activities within the Engel Group

Ultrafast Chiral Response

area.title activities within the Engel Group

Live Cell Studies

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

S.H. Sohail, J.P. Otto, P.D. Cunningham, Y.C. Kim, R.E. Wood, M.A. Allodi, J.S. Higgins, J.S. Melinger, and G.S. Engel, "DNA scaffold supports long-lived vibronic coherence in an indodicarbocyanine (Cy5) dimer", Chemical Science 11, 8546-8557 (2020)

R.J. Mazuski*, S.A. Díaz*, R.E. Wood, L.T. Lloyd, W.P. Klein, D. Mathur, J.S. Melinger, G.S. Engel, and Igor L. Medintz, "Ultrafast Excitation Transfer in Cy5 DNA Photonic Wires Displays Dye Conjugation and Excitation Energy Dependency", The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters 11, 4163-4172 (2020)

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