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Damien Murphy

Professor Damien Murphy

Professor of Physical Chemistry and Head of School

School of Chemistry

Media commentator


Professor Damien Murphy is the Head of School (Chemistry) within the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering, with overall responsibility for the management and leadership of all academic teaching and research activities.

His research interests are largely devoted to the study of paramagnetism, including the role of free radicals, defects and transition metal ions, in a broad range of systems of chemical interest, but with a specific focus in heterogeneous and homogeneous catalysis. Current active research projects that I lead on include, understanding the role of paramagnetism in homogeneous catalysis (sponsored by an EU ITN programme grant), applications of high field EPR to the characterisation of heterogeneous catalysis (sponsored by EPSRC), development of novel pressure and temperature perturbation methodologies in EPR (sponsored by EPSRC), the study of battery materials (sponsored by EPSRC/Johnson Matthey), and probing the role of reactive oxygen species in oxidation catalysis (sponsored by Invista). Ongoing projects in the group also include photocatalysis, in situ electrochemical-EPR, in situ photolysis and pulsed EPR/ENDOR techniques.



























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My research interests lie in the applications of advanced Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) techniques (specifically the hyperfine methodology ENDOR) to investigate the structure of paramagnetic systems, reactive intermediates and mechanistic pathways controlling catalytic reactions. Since joining Cardiff University in 1996, I have established the Cardiff EPR Group as a well-equipped centres devoted to studies of paramagnetism in catalysis. The principle activities of the group revolve around developments in heterogeneous photocatalysis, homogeneous catalysis, role of reactive oxygen species in oxidation reactions, and applications of hyperfine methodologies for structure determination. Our research activities focus on the chemical transformations catalysed by paramagnetic metal complexes in order to improve catalyst design/function. The group provides insights into the weak secondary interactions that control reaction selectivity, the conformational changes to catalyst structure, the free radical chemistry and the redox/spin states involved in the electron transfer steps. More recent developments in the group focus on the applications of high field EPR for catalysis research, and the unique development of perturbation methodologies (pressure and temperature jump EPR) to study catalytic systems.


In my current role as Head of School, I have limited teaching activities, and currently I only contribute to one 4th Year Module in Advanced Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy.

CH3410 Advanced Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy: Principles and Applications

CHT231 Advanced Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy: Principles and Applications

My previous teaching activities in the School included modules in CH3101 Foundations of Physical Chemistry, CH2117 Environmental Chemistry, CH3204 Symmetry, Spectroscopy and Quantum Mechanics, CH0001 Fundamental Aspects of Chemistry, CH0215 Materials and Applications, CH0306 Structure Determination, CH2115 Chemistry of the Cosmos, CH2406 Theory of Electron Dynamics. I have taught EPR spectroscopy at Cardiff University for over 20-years, and this experience stimulated me to contribute as a co-author to the Oxford University Press (OUP) primer textbook Electron Paramagnetic Resonance.


Professor Murphy joined Cardiff University in 1996 as a Lecturer in Physical Chemistry. Since April 2017 he is the current Head of the School for Chemistry and prior to that role he was Deputy Head of School and Director of Research from 2013-2017. He began his career by studying applied chemistry at the Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland (1986-1990), and later at the Universitá di Torino, Italy(1990-1993) where he completed his PhD (under the supervision of Prof Elio Giamello) using EPR spectroscopy to study defect vacancies and radical species on oxide surfaces. He then moved to the Instituto Superior Technico, Lisbon (1994-1995) to study the structure of small water clusters in asymmetric membranes using ATR-FTIR (with Profa. Maria de Pinho), and to the Université P. et M. Curie, Paris (1995-1996) examining the structure of microporous materials and zeolites using FTIR and EPR (with Profs Michel Che and Pascale Massiani). To date his research in EPR spectroscopy has received financial support through a number of large EU and UKRI grants. He works with a number of academic partners both nationally and internationally, and he also works widely with various industrial collaborators, including Johnson Matthey, Invista, Astra Zeneca and Sasol. As an expert in free radicals, he was awarded a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award (2014-2019). He is Fellow of the RSC (since 2009) and a Fellow of the LSW (since 2018).