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Research Interests

Experimental, theoretical and computational molecular optics. Measuring and modelling intermolecular interaction effects.

Research Projects

  • Measurement of molecular polarizabilities and hyperpolarizabilities via the electro-optic Kerr effect, Rayleigh light-scattering and the Cotton Mouton effect
  • Measurement of molecular electric quadrupole moments by means of the Buckingham effect (electric-field-gradient-induced birefringence, EFGIB)
  • Measurement and computer modelling of intermolecular interaction effects


Buckingham-effect apparatus

Selected Publications

  • Calculation and measurement of the second light-scattering virial coefficients of nonlinear molecules: a study of ethene, VW Couling and C Graham, 1996, Molecular Physics, 87, 779-799.
  • Second Kerr effect virial coefficients of polar molecules with linear and lower symmetry, VW Couling and C Graham, 1998, Molecular Physics, 93, 31-47.
  • Ultraviolet resonance Raman study of drug-binding in dihydrofolate reductase, gyrase and catechol o-methyl transferase, VW Couling, P Fischer, D Klenerman and W Huber, 1998, Biophysical Journal, 75, 1097-1106.
  • Measurement of the electric quadrupole moments of CO2 and OCS, N Chetty and VW Couling, 2011, Molecular Physics, 109, 655-666.
  • The electric quadrupole moment of O2, VW Couling and SS Ntombela, 2014, Chemical Physics Letters, 614, 41-44.
  • Hyperpolarizability dispersion measured for (CH3)2O, VW Couling and DP Shelton, 2015, Journal of Chemical Physics, 143, 224307.

Post-Graduate Students

Current PhD students

  • Mr Prathapa Balachandran-Pillai
  • Ms Roshna Jacob
  • Mr Mzungezi Mthembu
  • Mr Preshen Naidoo
  • Mr Siyabonga Ntombela

Current MSc students

  • Mr Mzwandile Mhlongo
  • Mr Verlan Moodley

Past Students

  • Mr Preshen Naidoo (MSc, 2017)
  • Mr Siyabonga Ntombela (MSc, 2015)
  • Mr Mzungezi Mthembu (MSc, 2015)
  • Ms Patricia Govender (MSc, 2011)
  • Dr Naven Chetty (PhD, 2009)
  • Dr Angela Dudley (MSc, 2009)
  • Ms Ann Singh (MSc, 2006)
  • Dr Tleyane J Sono (MSc, 2003)
  • Mr Richard V Nhlebela (MSc, 2000)
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