My main research interests are the electronic structure and transition intensities of visible and UV transitions within 4fN configurations and between the 4fN and 4fN-1 5d configurations of lanthanide (‘rare earth') ions in various compounds. These materials have complex spectra with sharp lines and so an extremely detailed comparison between theory and experiment is possible.
In addition to their intrinsic scientific interest, lanthanide compounds have technological applications, being widely used in fluorescent lamp and TV phosphors, laser materials, and fibre-optical amplifiers. New phosphors are under development that are pumped by higher-frequency VUV xenon excitation, rather than the UV mercury excitation of current lamps.
Thus, while our research is largely driven by the interesting problems involved in interpreting complex spectra, we hope that some of our results will be applicable to technological advances. In fact, several applied spectroscopy groups around the world use our computer software to analyse their spectra.