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Fellows Directory

Timothy Softley

Timothy Softley

Professor Timothy Softley FRS


Elected: 2018


Tim Softley is distinguished for his advances in two areas of Chemical Physics. First, the study of atoms and molecules in highly excited quantum states, known as ‘Rydberg states’. He has used his understanding of their properties, gained from laser spectroscopy and theory, to develop new applications including the study of model charge-transfer processes at solid-gas interfaces.  Second, he has pioneered unique experiments utilising combinations of novel physical devices for making cold atoms, molecules and ions, for studying the kinetics and dynamics of chemical processes at ultralow temperatures - close to the absolute zero of temperature - where quantum effects determine the reactivity.

Much of his work was conducted in a 25-year period at Merton College and the University of Oxford, where he was Head of the Chemistry Department 2011-2015. Previously he was a Royal Society University Research Fellow at Cambridge, a Harkness Fellow at Stanford, and completed a PhD with Professor Alan Carrington FRS at Southampton. He was awarded the Corday Morgan Medal of the RSC in 1994.

Since 2015 he has been Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Transfer at the University of Birmingham.

Professional positions

Pro-Vice-Chancellor, University of Birmingham
Professor of Chemistry, University of Birmingham

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Chemistry
    • Chemistry, physical


Reaction dynamics and laser spectroscopy, Ryberg states, Ultracold chemistry

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