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Title: Quantum master equations for spin chemistry
Author: Fay, Thomas
ISNI:       0000 0005 0291 8875
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2020
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It is a remarkable fact that the interactions between electron and nuclear spins, and their interactions with a magnetic field, can have a profound effect on chemical reactivity, despite the fact that the characteristic interaction energies are orders of magnitude smaller than thermal energy. These observations are explained by the existence of long-lived quantum coherences between spins in certain molecular species (in particular radical pairs), and the study of these spin effects constitutes the field of spin chemistry, a field which spans a wide range of systems, from biochemical reactions to device physics. Because spin chemistry involves subtle quantum effects, many intuitive models used by Physical Chemists, in particular classical kinetic equations, cannot be universally applied. On the other hand, complete first principles modelling of reactions involving spin effects comes at an impossibly high computational cost in complex systems, and often offers little physical insight. In order to address the shortcomings of these approaches, quantum master equations (QMEs) are employed to describe spin chemical phenomena. These are equations that describe a reduced set of degrees of freedom quantum mechanically, accounting for the effects of remaining degrees freedom implicitly. In this thesis I explore the use of QME techniques to resolve a range of problems in spin chemistry. These techniques can be used to obtain the correct radical pair spin QME, resolving questions about the role of quantum measurement in these systems. As well as aiding the development of the theory of spin chemistry, QMEs provide a practical tool for modelling radical pair reactions including spin relaxation effects, as I also demonstrate. As a final study of QME techniques in spin chemistry, I use these methods to show when the classical kinetic description of radical pair reactions is and is not valid.
Supervisor: Manolopoulos, David Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Theoretical chemistry ; Spin chemistry