Dr Paul Donaldson
05 Dec 2019



UKRI Future Leaders Fellow




Contact details

Research Interests

I am interested in what spectroscopy can tell us about the world at the molecular level –  structure, dynamics, solvation, chemical reactivity, hydrogen bonding, energy flow, diffusion, heterogeneity and electrostatics. These are just some of the aspects of the molecular world that spectroscopy tells us about. My interest in this area of science also focusses on applying it in areas of fundamental and practical importance - heterogeneous catalysis, battery science, photo catalysis, electro catalysis, biomolecular structure and dynamics and nanoscience to name a few.

New spectroscopies are enabled and enhanced by new light sources, in particular, new laser sources. I focus on the techniques and applications of spectroscopies based on ultrafast femtosecond and picosecond laser sources in the visible and infrared part of the spectrum. 2D-IR, EVV 2D-IR spectroscopy, TR-IR, TR UV/Visible spectroscopy and IR-Vis Surface SFG are all techniques that I have used extensively and built multiple instruments to work with.

About Me

I have been doing research in 2D-IR and other kinds of ultrafast spectroscopy for more than 16 years. I started my research career during long summer placements in the late nineties in the Raman spectroscopy and Mass spectrometry labs of the University of Edinburgh. I spent several years at the University of Sussex as a research student making Rb Bose condensates and in 2002 then decided that I wanted to be involved in the development of the new techniques of ultrafast 2D-IR spectroscopy. I did this as a PhD student and Postdoc at Imperial College London and spent a further 4 years at the University of Zurich as a postdoc, continuing to build my experience of 2D-IR spectroscopy with some of the best in the business. In 2012 I moved to the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, where I began a new phase of my career mixing research with supporting the operation of national facilities. I worked at Diamond Light Source as a staff scientist for a year where I built a near-field IR microscope and helped external users to do IR imaging and microspectroscopy. In 2013 I moved to the Central Laser Facility to work as an operations/research scientist at the Ultra Facility, where I became busy building new 2D-IR, TR-IR and SFG spectrometers, running them for external user groups and also doing my own research. In 2019 I was awarded a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship to start a research group applying ultrafast spectroscopy to problems in catalysis and battery science.​

If you would like to read more about my group, please follow this link: Donaldson Group (rc-harwell.ac.uk)


Laser induced temperature-jump time resolved IR spectroscopy of zeo​lites. 2024

Alexander P. Hawkins, Amy E. Edmeades, Christopher D. M. Hutchison, Michael Towrie, Russell F. Howe, Gregory M. Greetham, Paul M. Donaldson
Chem. Sci., 2024
DOI: 10.1039/D3SC0612K​

 Breaking Barriers in Ultrafast Spectroscopy and Imaging Using 100 kHz Amplified Yb-Laser Systems. 2023

Paul M. Donaldson, Greg M. Greetha​m, Chris T. Middleton, Brad M. Luther, Martin T. Zanni, Peter Hamm,​ and Amber T. Krummel
ACS, 2023​
DOI: 10.1021/acs.accounts.3c00152

 Ultrafast 2D-IR spectroscopy of intensely optically scattering pelleted solid catalysts. 2023

 Paul M. Donaldson,  Russell F. Howe,  Alexander P. Hawkins, Mike Towrie, and  Gregory M. Greetham
J. Chem. Phys. , 2023

 Spectrophotometric Conce​ntration Analysis Without Molar Absorption Coefficients by Two-Dimensional-Infrared and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy. 2022

Paul M. Donaldson, ACS Publications, Anal​ytical Chemistry

 Time-resolved infra-red studies of photo-excited porphyrins in the presence of nucleic acids and in HeLa tumour cells: insights into binding site and electron transfer dynamics. 2022

P. M. Kea​ne,​ C. Zehe, F. E. Poynton, S. A. Bright, S. Estayalo-Adria´n, S. J. Devereux, P. M. Donaldson, I. V. Sazanovich, M. Towrie, S. W. Botchway, C. J. Cardin, D. C. Williams, T. Gunnlaugsson, C. Long, J. M. Kelly and S. J. Quinn, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys.
​DOI: 10.1039/d2cp04604k​​

pH Jumps in a Protic Ionic Liquid Proceed by Vehicular Proton Transp​ort. 2022

S Maiti, S Mitra, CA Johnson, KC Gronborg, S Garrett-Roe, and PM Donaldson, ​​ACS Publications, J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 2022, 13, 34, 8104–8110

​Detection of Glycine as a Model Protein in Blood Serum Using 2D-IR Spectroscopy. 2021​​​

Samantha H. Rutherford; Gregory M. Greetham; Paul M. Donaldson; Michael Towrie; Anthony W. Parker; Matthew J. Baker; Neil T. Hunt, Analytical Chemistry

DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.0c03567

An Ultrafast Vibrational Study of Dynamical Heterogeneity in the Protic Ionic Liquid Ethyl-Ammonium Nitrate.  2021
C Johnson, AW Parker, PM Donaldson and S Garrett-Roe, J. Chem. Phys.​
DOI: 10.1063/5.0044822

Photon echoes and two dim​ensional spectra of the amide I band of proteins measured by femtosecond IR – Raman spectroscopy. 2020

PM Donaldson, Chem. Sci.
DOI: 10.1039/D0SC02978E

Mechanisms of IR amplification in radical cation polarons. 2020

WJ Kendrick, M Jirasek, MD Peeks, GM Greetham, IV Sazanovich, PM Donaldson, M Towrie, AW Parker and HL Anderson, Chem. Sci.
DOI: 10.1039/C9SC05717J

2D-IR Spectroscopy of Proteins in Water: Using the Solvent Thermal Response as an Internal Standard. 2020

S Hume, GM Greetham, PM Donaldson, M Towrie, AW Parker, MJ Baker and NT Hunt, Anal. Chem.
DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.9b05601

In situ study of the low overpotential “dimer pathway” for electrocatalytic carbon dioxide reduction by manganese carbonyl complexes.  2019
G Neri, PM Donaldson and AJ Cowan, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys.
DOI: 10.1039/C9CP00504H 

​Measuring proteins in H2O with 2D-IR spectroscopy. 2019

S Hume, G Hithell,a GM Greetham, PM Donaldson, M Towrie, AW Parker, MJ Baker and NT Hunt, Chem. Sci.
DOI: 10.1039/C9SC01590F

Detection of catalytic intermediates at an electrode surface during carbon dioxide reduction by an earth-abundant catalyst.  2018
G Neri, JJ Walsh, G Teobaldi, PM Donaldson, and AJ Cowan, Nat. Catal.
DOI: 10.1038/s41929-018-0169-3

Infrared spectroscopy reveals multi-step multi-timescale photoactivation in the photoconvertible protein archetype dronpa.  2018
SP Laptenok, AA Gil, CR Hall, A Lukacs, JN Iuliano, GA Jones, GM Greetham, P Donaldson, A Miyawaki, PJ Tonge, and SR Meech, Nat. Chem.
DOI: 10.1038/s41557-018-0073-0

Rapid screening of DNA-ligand complexes via 2D-IR spectroscopy and ANOVA-PCA.  2018
R Fritzsch, PM Donaldson, GM Greetham, M Towrie, AW Parker, MJ Baker, and NT Hunt, Anal. Chem.
DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.7b04727

A 100 kHz pulse shaping 2D-IR spectrometer based on dual Yb:KGW amplifiers.  2018
PM Donaldson, GM Greetham, DJ Shaw, AW Parker, and M Towrie, J. Phys. Chem. A
DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpca.7b10259

Effect of oligomer length on vibrational coupling and energy relaxation in double-stranded DNA.  2018
G Hithell, PM Donaldson, GM Greetham, M Towrie, AW Parker, GA Burley, and NT Hunt, Chem. Phys.
DOI: 10.1016/j.chemphys.2017.12.010

Investigating the role of the organic cation in formamidinium lead iodide perovskite using ultrafast spectroscopy. 2018
V Taylor, D Tiwari, M Duchi, PM Donaldson, IP Clark, DJ Fermin, and TAA Oliver, J. Phys. Chem. Lett.
DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpclett.7b03296

The Role of Electrode-Catalyst Interactions in Enabling Efficient CO2 Reduction with Mo(bpy)(CO)4 As Revealed by Vibrational Sum-Frequency Generation Spectroscopy.  2017
G Neri, PM Donaldson, and AJ Cowan, J. Am. Chem. Soc.
DOI: 10.1021/jacs.7b06898

Femtosecond to microsecond observation of the photochemical reaction of 1,2-di(quinolin-2-yl)disulfide with methyl methacrylate.  2017
D Koyama, PM Donaldson, and AJ Orr-Ewing, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys.
DOI: 10.1039/C7CP01784G

Quantifying Secondary Structure Changes in Calmodulin Using 2D-IR Spectroscopy.  2017
L Minnes, DJ Shaw, BP Cossins, PM Donaldson, GM Greetham, M Towrie, AW Parker, MJ Baker, AJ Henry, RJ Taylor, and NT Hunt, Anal. Chem.
DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.7b02610

Ultrafast 2D-IR and optical Kerr effect spectroscopy reveal the impact of duplex melting on the structural dynamics of DNA.  2017
G Hithell, M Gonzalez-Jimenez, GM Greetham, PM Donaldson, M Towrie, AW Parker, GA Burley, K Wynne, and NT Hunt, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys.
DOI: 10.1039/C7CP00054E

2D-IR Spectroscopy Shows that Optimized DNA Minor Groove Binding of Hoechst33258 Follows an Induced Fit Model.  2017
LAI Ramakers, G Hithell, JJ May, GM Greetham, PM Donaldson, M Towrie, AW Parker, GA Burley, and NT Hunt, J. Phys. Chem. B
DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcb.7b00345

Long-range vibrational dynamics are directed by Watson-Crick base pairing in duplex DNA.  2016
G Hithell, DJ Shaw, PM Donaldson, GM Greetham, M Towrie, GA Burley, AW Parker, and NT Hunt, J. Phys. Chem. B, vol. 120. no. 17, pp. 4009-4018
DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcb.6b02112

A 100 kHz time-resolved multiple-probe femtosecond to second infrared absorption spectrometer.  2016
GM Greetham, PM Donaldson, C Nation, IV Sazanovich, IP Clark, DJ Shaw, AW Parker, and M Towrie, Appl. Spectrosc., vol. 70, no. 4, pp. 645-653
DOI: 10.1177/0003702816631302

Broadband near-field infrared spectromicroscopy using photothermal probes and synchrotron radiation.  2016
PM Donaldson, CS Kelley, MD Frogley, J Filik, K Wehbe, and G Cinque, Opt. Express, vol. 24, no. 3, p. 1852
DOI: 10.1364/OE.24.001852

Synchrotron infrared near-field spectroscopy in photothermal mode.  2016
CS Kelley, MD Frogley, A Fitzpatrick, K Wehbe, PM Donaldson and G Cinque, Spectroscopy Europe, vol. 28 (6)

World First for Diamond in Synchrotron-Based IR Photothermal Nanospectroscopy.  2016
G Cinque, CS Kelley,MD Frogley, J Filik, K Wehbe,A Fitzpatrick and PM Donaldson, Synchrotron Radiation News
DOI: 10.1080/08940886.2016.1198675

In situ Synchrotron IR Microspectroscopy of CO2 Adsorption on Single Crystals of the Functionalized MOF Sc2(BDC-NH2)3.  2014
A Greenaway, B Gonzalez-Santiago, PM Donaldson, MD Frogley, G Cinque, J Sotelo, SN Moggach, E Shiko, S Brandani, R Howe and P Wright, Angew. Chem.
DOI: 10.1002/anie.201408369

Gold Nanoparticle Capping Layers: Structure, Dynamics, and Surface Enhancement Measured Using 2D-IR Spectroscopy.  2013
PM Donaldson and P Hamm, Angew. Chem.
DOI: 10.1002/anie.201204973

Photocontrol of Reversible Amyloid Formation with a Minimal-Design Peptide.  2012
SA Waldauer, S Hassan, B Paol, PM Donaldson, R Pfister, P Hamm, A Caflisch and R Pellarin, J. Phys. Chem. B
DOI: 10.1021/jp305311z

High sensitivity transient infrared spectroscopy: a UV/Visible transient grating spectrometer with a heterodyne detected infrared probe.  2012
PM Donaldson, H Strzalka and P Hamm, Opt. Express
DOI: 10.1364/OE.20.012761

Book section: Section 11.6 Mixed IR-Vis 2D-IR spectroscopies.  2011
P Hamm and M Zanni, Book: Concepts and Methods of 2D-IR spectroscopy, Cambridge University Press

Enhancing signal detection and completely eliminating scattering using quasi-phase-cycling in 2D IR experiments.  2010
R Bloem, S Garrett-Roe, H Strzalka, P Hamm and PM Donaldson, Opt. Express
DOI: 10.1364/OE.18.027067

Generation of Simplified Protein Raman Spectra Using Three-Color Picosecond Coherent Anti-Stokes Raman Spectroscopy.  2010
PM Donaldson, KR Wilson and DR Klug, J. Phys. Chem. B
DOI: 10.1021/jp1061607

Vibrational Energy Transport through a Capping Layer of Appropriately Designed Peptide Helices over Gold Nanoparticles.  2010
M Schade, A Moretto, PM Donaldson, C Toniolo and P Hamm, Nano Lett.
DOI: 10.1021/nl101580w

2D-IR Study of a Photoswitchable Isotope-Labeled α-Helix.  2010
EH Backhus, R Bloem, PM Donaldson, JA Ihalainen, R Pfister, B Paoli, A Caflisch and P Hamm, J. Phys. Chem. B
DOI: 10.1021/jp911849n

Biological and biomedical applications of two-dimensional vibrational spectroscopy: Proteomics, imaging and structural analysis.  2009
F Fournier, R Guo, EM Gardner, PM Donaldson, C Loeffeld, IR Gould, KR Willison and DR Klug, Acc. Chem. Res.
DOI: 10.1021/ar900074p

Detection of complex formation and determination of intermolecular geometry through electrical anharmonic coupling of molecular vibrations using electron-vibration–vibration two-dimensional infrared spectroscopy.  2009
R Guo, F Fournier, PM Donaldson, EM Gardner, IR Gould and DR Klug, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys.
DOI: 10.1039/B910804A

Protein identification and quantification by two-dimensional infrared spectroscopy: Implications for an all-optical proteomic platform.  2008
F Fournier, EM Gardner, DA Kedra, PM Donaldson, R Guo, SA Butcher, IR Gould, KR Willison and DR Klug, PNAS
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0805127105

Decongestion of methylene spectra in biological and non-biological systems using picosecond 2DIR spectroscopy measuring electron-vibration–vibration coupling.  2008
PM Donaldson, R Guo, F Fournier, EM Gardner, IR Gould and DR Klug, Chem. Phys.
DOI: 10.1016/j.chemphys.2008.02.050

Optical fingerprinting of peptides using two-dimensional infrared spectroscopy: Proof of principle.  2008
F Fournier, EM Gardner, R Guo, PM Donaldson, LMC Barter, DJ Palmer, CJ Barnett, KR Willison, IR Gould and DR Klug, Anal. Biochem.
DOI: 10.1016/j.ab.2007.11.009

Direct identification and decongestion of Fermi resonances by control of pulse time ordering in two-dimensional IR spectroscopy.  2007
PM Donaldson, R Guo, F Fournier, EM Gardner, LMC Barter, CJ Barnett, IR Gould and DR Klug, J. Chem. Phys.
DOI: 10.1063/1.2805082

Patent: P39583GB
PM Donaldson and DR Klug, Apparatus and method for obtaining spectral information

Patent: WO 2006/123172 A2
PM Donaldson and DR Klug, Method of Spectroscopy

Patent: WO 2006/005931 Al
PM Donaldson and DR Klug, Spectroscopic Support

Contact: Donaldson, Paul (STFC,RAL,CLF)