Dr Daniel Kattnig
Senior Lecturer (E&R)
Telephone: 01392 727479
Extension: (Streatham) 7479Research themes
My group focuses on the theoretical description and experimental assessment of the effects of weak magnetic fields on chemical reaction yields relevant to animal magnetoreception or biological processes associated with oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation. These processes have in common that they involve transient radical pairs, ubiquitous short-lived reaction intermediates whose chemistry is controlled their spin dynamics and whose fate can often be impacted by magnetic interactions orders of magnitude weaker than the thermal energy per degree of freedom, kBT. We are particularly interested in modelling the quantum effects that underlie these processes and in understanding how these effects can be harnessed in biological systems despite their warm, wet and noisy characteristics, which in principle are expected to lead to fast decoherence. To this end, we seek mechanisms that are able to amplify magnetic field effects, tailor their characteristics to particular applications, or evade spin relaxation. We aim for a fundamental understanding of the governing principles, which will allow us to exploit these extraordinary quantum effects in new technological and medical applications, invite a reassessment of related health implications and provide insights in the emerging field of quantum biology.
I completed my PhD in physical chemistry at the Graz University of Technology, Austria, on studies of (photo-induced) electron transfer phenomena (Prof. Grampp). It is during this period that I first delved into the study of magnetic field effects on charge recombination reactions, a phenomenon that inspired my scientific career and ambitions. Following a short period in industrial research, in 2010, I joined the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research, Mainz, Germany, where I focused on the investigation of soft matter and proteins (e.g. MBP) by means of pulsed electron paramagnetic resonance (Profs. Hinderberger and Spiess). Returning to Graz, I took on a research position dedicated to magnetic field effects on exciplex-forming donor acceptor systems, which I held until 2013 when I joined the group of Prof. Hore and Prof. Mark Wallace at the University of Oxford. In this role, I focused experimental and theoretical spin chemistry. Since then, the theoretical modelling of avian magnetoreception, which has been hypothesised to rely on quantum phenomena involving transient radical pairs, is at the heart of my current research endeavours. I joined the Living Systems Institute at the University of Exeter in 2017.
People Current members
Chris Sampson (Postdoctoral research assistant, 2018 -)
Robert Keens (DPhil student, 2017- )
Dr. Salil Bedkihal (Postdoctoral research assistant, 2017 - 2018)