Professor Michael Wasielewski FRSC
Winner: 2022 Faraday Division open award:
Faraday Lectureship Prize
For contributions toward understanding electron spin dynamics in molecular systems for applications in quantum information science.
Celebrate Professor Michael Wasielewski
Quantum information science (QIS) promises breathtaking advances in computing, sensing applications and communications. These advances depend on harnessing the unique properties of matter on the atomic scale. For example, Professor Wasielewski’s research focuses on electrons within molecules that have a property called spin. When observing the spin of an electron, only one of two possible values result, much like the on-off switches (bits) representing 0 or 1 in today’s computers. But when electrons are not observed, many of them (quantum bits or qubits) can interact to utilise any value between 0 and 1, therefore greatly expanding their ability to carry out computations.
The Wasielewski research group also focuses on connecting these systems on the molecular length scale without losing the important quantum properties of the resulting system. Molecular synthesis affords the opportunity to build novel molecular materials for QIS from the bottom up.Read winner biography
Michael R. Wasielewski is currently the Clare Hamilton Hall Professor of Chemistry at Northwestern University. He is Executive Director of the Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern, and Director of the Center for Molecular Quantum Transduction, a US-DOE Energy Frontier Research Center. He received his BS, MS and PhD degrees from the University of Chicago and was a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University.
Professor Wasielewski’s research has resulted in over 750 publications and focuses on light-driven processes in molecules and materials, artificial photosynthesis, molecular electronics, quantum information science, ultrafast optical spectroscopy, and time-resolved electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy.
His honours and awards include membership of the US National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; the Josef Michl American Chemical Society Award in Photochemistry; the Porter Medal for Photochemistry; the James Flack Norris Award in Physical Organic Chemistry of the American Chemical Society; the Royal Society of Chemistry Physical Organic Chemistry Award; the Royal Society of Chemistry Environment Prize; the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award of the American Chemical Society; the Bruker Prize in EPR Spectroscopy; the International EPR Society Silver Medal in Chemistry; the Chemical Pioneer Award of the American Institute of Chemists; and, the Humboldt Research Award.
How did you first become interested in chemistry?
I first became interested in chemistry as a child as a result of being fascinated with how rockets were propelled.
Who or what has inspired you?
My teachers over the years have been a great inspiration to me. Now that I am a professor, I derive inspiration from my students, whose own curiosity energises mine.
What motivates you?
I have always been curious about how things work. Early in life I was fond of taking things apart, whether they were mechanical or electrical, then trying to understand how to put them back together to re-establish a working device. This now extends from things we can see in everyday life down to the atomic scale where chemistry and quantum properties occur.
What advice would you give to a young person considering a career in chemistry?
Develop a broad interest and background in all areas of chemistry. Focus on solving problems important to society and bring to bear any and all sub-fields of chemistry and science needed to solve the problems.
Can you tell us about a scientific development on the horizon that you are excited about?
I am excited by the role that chemistry can play in furthering the development of new materials for quantum information science.
Why do you think teamwork is important in science?
Teamwork is essential to doing cutting-edge science today. Learning how to use the varied expertise of your co-workers as well as contribute your own expertise to problem solving is essential to addressing the most difficult problems in science and technology.