Kirchner, Tom

Tom Kirchner

Associate Professor
Dr. phil. nat. (Goethe)

Administrative Title(s)
Director, Graduate Program in Physics and Astronomy or

Department(s): Physics and Astronomy

Office: 228 Petrie Science & Engineering Building (PSE)
Phone: (416)736-2100 ext. 33695

Research Fields
Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics

Graduate Program Appointment
Full Member: Eligible to supervise M.Sc. or Ph.D.

Research Types
Computational, Theoretical

Research specialization
Interactions of atomic and molecular few-body systems with particles and fields; Ionization and fragmentation of molecules; Density functional theory; Time-resolved quantum dynamics.

My research is concerned with the question of how atomic and molecular few-body systems respond to perturbations exerted on them by impinging particles and external fields. Quantum dynamics induced by collisions or laser fields have implications for a variety of topics and applications ranging from plasma diagnostics to radiation biology. What is more, they constitute a problem of fundamental importance: How do the building blocks of matter interact and evolve in space and time? The better this question is answered, the more is learned about a further issue that receives considerable attention: Can few-body quantum dynamics be manipulated purposefully and controlled actively?

I have participated in a number of projects and activities to elucidate these topics by theoretical analysis and computations. Methods based on density functional theory deal with the many-electron problem, and both nonperturbative and perturbative quantum methods describe the dynamics of the systems. Currently, we are working on a method to describe ionization and fragmentation of multi-center molecules. First applications are concerned with ion-induced fragmentation of water, which is a relevant process in the radiation damage of biological tissue. In the long run we hope to study even more complex systems, thereby exploring the transition from correlated to collective dynamics. Our central goal is to contribute to a microscopic understanding of time-resolved quantum dynamics, and to investigate applicability and limitations of density functional theory by practical calculations.