Robin Perutz is a photochemist with a passion for light-induced reactions of transition metal complexes. This research has taken him into solar energy conversion and the activation of small molecules. Photochemical studies provide direct probes of reaction mechanisms and the structures of reactive intermediates. Techniques including time-resolved spectroscopy with both UV/visible and infrared detection complement steady state photochemical methods using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography. Robin likes to bring many different techniques to bear on one problem such as the photochemical reactivity of metal hydride complexes. Recent highlights include characterisation of manganese complexes with simple alkanes at low temperature and the photochemical reduction of CO2 with a porphyrin-rhenium dyad. In collaboration with Simon Duckett and Meghan Halse, he has developed new methods of laser pump-NMR probe spectroscopy that take NMR spectroscopy into the submillisecond time domain.
Robin did his PhD with Jim Turner, FRS in Cambridge and Newcastle studying the photochemistry of metal carbonyls in low temperature matrices during which he demonstrated the bonding of metal carbonyl complexes to methane and to noble gases. Following spells in Mülheim and Edinburgh, he moved to a demonstratorship in Oxford (1977-83) where he started on metal hydride photochemistry. From Oxford, he went on to a lectureship in York where he has stayed ever since.
Robin first used the Lasers for Science facility of STFC in the late 1980s; its facilities played an important role in his research into laser-induced fluorescence and time-resolved IR spectroscopy of reactive molecules. He served as Chair of the Lasers for Science Access Panel from 2011 to 2015. He has also acted as Head of the Department of Chemistry in York (2000-04), Chair of Dalton Division of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC, 2007-10), and a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Research Complex at Harwell.
Robin became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2010 and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2015. He has received awards from the RSC, the Italian and French Chemical Societies. He has been committed to the women in science agenda for more than 15 years – York Chemistry became the first department to win the Athena SWAN gold status. He has also been very involved in supporting STEM students with disabilities and, as Royal Society Human Rights representative, in supporting scientists fleeing conflict.
Last updated: 15 November 2018