Photochemistry and Spectroscopy Department

Institute of Physical Chemistry, Polish Academy of Sciences




Łukasz Piątkowski – Research fellow



phone number: +48 22-343-2086

office: CL47









27.01.2012 -         PhD in Physics; University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands)

Thesis title: Water interacting with interfaces, ions and itself;                               

under supervision of Prof. Huib J. Bakker.


05.07.2006 -         Master of Engineering (cum laude); Poznan University of Technology (Poland)

Thesis title: Optimization of the setup for free atom optical-microwave double resonance spectroscopy; under supervision of Prof. Ewa Stachowska.


Research experience


01.11.2016 - ongoing

Postdoctoral research at ICHF - Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences (Warsaw, Poland) in the department of Photochemistry and Spectroscopy

Research tasks: Single molecule detection and ultrafast single molecule spectroscopy focused on the tautomerization reaction in individual porphycenes and their derivatives.


29.06.2012 - 31.10.2016

Postdoctoral research at ICFO - The Institute of Photonic Sciences (Castelldefels, Spain) in the group of Molecular Nanophotonics (Prof. Niek van Hulst)

Research tasks: Construction of a complex ultrafast polarisation and time-resolved stimulated emission detection microscopy setup. Performing experiments focused on the control of ultrashort pulses on the nanoscale. Investigation of structure and dynamics of graphene, quantum dots and various molecular systems on the nanoscale.


01.04.2012 – 30.06.2012

Postdoctoral research at FOM Institute AMOLF (Amsterdam, The Netherlands) in the group of Ultrafast Spectroscopy (Prof. Huib Bakker)

Research tasks: Development of an experimental protocol for investigation of proton dynamics in water nano clusters.


01.11.2006 – 31.10.2011

Ph.D. research at the FOM Institute AMOLF (Amsterdam, The Netherlands) in the group of Ultrafast Spectroscopy (Prof. Huib Bakker)

PhD thesis: Water interacting with interfaces, ions and itself.

Research tasks: Construction of complex multicolour polarisation and time-resolved experimental setups for transient absorption and sum frequency generation spectroscopies. Investigation of structure and dynamics of water.


01.09.2005 – 30.06.2006

M.Sc. research at Poznan University of Technology (Poznan, Poland), Faculty of Technical Physics, in the group of Quantum Engineering and Metrology (Prof. Ewa Stachowska)

Master's thesis: Optimization of the setup for free atom optical-microwave double resonance spectroscopy.





Selected publications


L. Piatkowski, N. Accanto and Niek F. van Hulst, Ultrafast meets ultrasmall: controlling nanoantennas and molecules, ACS Photonics, 3, 1401–1414 (2016)


L. Piatkowski, E. Gellings and Niek F. van Hulst, Broadband single molecule excitation spectroscopy, Nature Communications, 7, 10411 (2016)


L. Piatkowski, E. Gellings and Niek F. van Hulst, Multicolour single molecule emission and excitation spectroscopy reveals extensive spectral shifts, Faraday Discussions, 184, 207-220 (2015)


K.-J. Tielrooij, L. Piatkowski, M. Massicotte, A. Woessner, Q. Ma, Y. Lee, C.N. Lau, P. Jarillo-Herrero, Niek F. van Hulst and F. Koppens, Generation of photovoltage in graphene on a femtosecond timescale through efficient carrier heating, Nature Nanotechnology, 10, 437–443 (2015)


L. Piatkowski, Z. Zhang, E.H.G. Backus, H.J. Bakker and M. Bonn, Extreme surface propensity of halide ions in water, Nature Communications, 5, 4083 (2014)


L. Piatkowski, J. de Heij and H.J. Bakker, Probing the distribution of water molecules hydrating lipid membranes with ultrafast Förster vibrational energy transfer, Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 117(5), 1367-77 (2013)


L. Piatkowski and H.J. Bakker, Vibrational relaxation pathways of AI and AII modes in N-methylacetamide, Journal of Chemical Physics, 136, 164504 (2012)


L. Piatkowski and H.J. Bakker, Vibrational dynamics of the bending mode of water interacting with ions, Journal of Chemical Physics, 135, 214509 (2011)


Z. Zhang, L. Piatkowski, H.J. Bakker and M. Bonn, Ultrafast vibrational energy transfer at the water/air interface revealed by two-dimensional surface vibrational spectroscopy, Nature Chemistry, 3, 888 (2011)


L. Piatkowski and H.J. Bakker, Vibrational relaxation pathways of AI and AII modes in N-methylacetamide clusters, Journal of Physical Chemistry A, 114, 11462 (2010)


L. Piatkowski, K.B. Eisenthal and H.J. Bakker, Ultrafast intermolecular energy transfer in heavy water, Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 11, 9033 (2009)



Current project


I am currently working on a project entitled “Intramolecular hydrogen transfer dynamics in single molecules studied with femtosecond microscopy”.

Water, mineral salts and more complex molecules such as amino acids and proteins are undisputedly crucial to our existence. An interesting and important, but not well-explored yet group of molecules, is a family of naturally occurring molecules called porphyrins. Various kinds of porphyrins are used in a multitude of biochemical processes, including those taking place in our body. The significance of porphyrins and the role they play is strongly connected to their structure and dynamics. Porphyrins contain mobile hydrogen atoms that constantly change their position within the molecule. This makes the molecule switch continuously and extremely fast between two chemical structures, a process known in chemistry as tautomerization. In this project I am using porphycenes, structural ‘cousins’ of porphyrins, as a model system that exhibits ultrafast tautomerization. So far, the hydrogen dynamics in porphycenes has been studied in solutions, where the interaction between many molecules obscures the observation of the hydrogen motion within one molecule. To see exactly how fast tautomerization takes place in a molecule we need to investigate these molecules in isolation, which leads me to the main question of my research project:

How fast do hydrogen atoms move and hydrogen bonds rearrange in a single porphycene molecule?


Answer to the above question will give us much needed insight into tautomerization, one of the most fundamental chemical processes and will help us to understand why did Nature design these molecules this way and not another; all that with a vision in mind that perhaps one day we will be able to better mimic Nature and harvest its knowledge to our own use. Moreover, the proposed experiments will pave the road for the study of hydrogen transfer and hydrogen bonding dynamics in complex biomacromolecules.  The challenge of this research lies in how we can monitor a process that lasts only a tiny fraction of a second (picoseconds) and how we can do that with only a single molecule. In order to ‘see’ a single molecule we need to use a very sophisticated microscope. However, just seeing individual molecules is not enough to investigate the dynamical processes that happen inside a molecule. To achieve our goal we are combining microscopy with ultrashort laser pulses. We are using lasers that can produce very short pulses of light, which allow us to ‘freeze’ the motion of a fast moving object, like molecules and atoms, and to determine their properties. By taking a series of such ultrashort snapshots of the hydrogen in the molecules I will be able to resolve its motion.



This project is financed within the Marie Curie COFUND scheme and POLONEZ program from the National Science Centre, Poland. POLONEZ grant nr. 2015/19/P/ST4/03635.


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 665778.