Jeffrey K. Nagle

Affiliation: Chemistry
Charles Weston Pickard Professor of Chemistry Emeritus

Our work is centered on the photochemistry and photophysics of luminescent platinum group molecules. Much of this effort is devoted to understanding excited state electron, energy, and atom transfer reactions, as well as exciplex (excited state complex) and excimer (excited state dimer) formation. Excited state reactions play a key role in molecular-based solar energy conversion schemes, including photosynthesis. We use optical (absorption, emission, and excitation) spectroscopies, pulsed-laser excited state lifetime measurements, and cyclic voltammetry to evaluate potential photocatalysts in such schemes and to test modern theories of electron transfer.

An outgrowth of this work focuses on the effect of light absorption on relativistically influenced metal-metal bond formation. Einstein's theory of special relativity governs the behavior of particles that move at speeds approaching that of light. The electrons in platinum and related atoms provide examples of such particles, and as a consequence molecules containing these atoms experience substantial relativistic effects on their interactions with light and other atoms.

An example of the type of compound we work with is provided by the molecular ion Pt2(P2O4H2)44-. This fascinating species absorbs light in the visible region of the spectrum, resulting in an intense green luminescence in water or solids. It also takes part in a rich array of photochemical reactions, including interactions with DNA, and exhibits an enhanced tendency to bond to other heavy metal atoms such as silver, gold, and thallium. Such bonding interactions result in the formation of luminescent metal-metal bonded exciplexes, an area of research that my students and I have pioneered over the past several years at Bowdoin.


  • PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1979
  • AB, Earlham College, 1975