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Jack Woolley (PhD)

Jack Woolley


Having completed my MPhys degree in Chemical Physics at Heriot-Watt University, I moved to Warwick University to begin working on my PhD at the new Warwick Centre for Ultrafast Spectroscopy (WCUS). My research focusses on the photostability of molecular systems with applications to sunscreens. I study these systems through transient electronic absorption spectroscopy to understand how they dissipate excess energy within a solvent environment, in a hope to engineer the next generation of photoprotective species for use in commercial applications.

Away from the laboratory I enjoy weekends away hillwalking and rock climbing in the National Parks.

TEAS setup


The Role of Symmetric Functionalisation on Photoisomerisation of a UV Commercial Chemical Filter

Jack M. Woolley, Jack S. Peters, Matthew A.P. Turner, Guy J. Clarkson, Michael D. Horbury, Vasilios G. Stavros. Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2019.

Photoisomerisation has been shown to be an efficient excited-state relaxation mechanism for a variety of nature-based and artificial-based molecular systems. Here we report on the excited-state relaxation dynamics and consequent photostability of a symmetrically functionalised cinnamate by transient electronic absorption spectroscopy, along with complementary computational and steady-state spectroscopy methods. The findings are then discussed in comparison to 2-ethylhexyl-E-4-methoxycinnamate, a structurally related ‘off the shelf’ chemical filter present in commercial sunscreens with a similar absorption profile. The present study allows for a like-for-like comparison beween 2-ethylhexyl-E-4-methoxycinnamate and the functionalised cinnamate, driven by the need to enhance solar protection across both the UVA and UVB regions of the electromagnetic spectrum.

 Unravelling the Photoprotection Properties of Mycosporine Amino Acid Motifs

Jack M. Woolley, Michael Staniforth, Michael D Horbury, Gareth W. Richings, Martin Wills, and Vasilios G.Stavros. J. Phys. Chem. Lett., 2018.

Photoprotection from harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure is a key problem in modern society. Mycosporine-like amino acids found in fungi, cyanobacteria, macroalgae, phytoplankton, and animals are already presenting a promising form of natural photoprotection in sunscreen formulations. Using time-resolved transient electronic absorption spectroscopy and guided by complementary ab initio calculations, we help to unravel how the core structures of these molecules perform under UV irradiation. Through such detailed insight into the relaxation mechanisms of these ubiquitous molecules, we hope to inspire new thinking in developing next-generation photoprotective molecules.


Warwick Centre for Ultrafast Spectroscopy (WCUS)

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Office: E0.11a