Dr. Christopher Milne

Chris Milne

Group leader of the Alvra group which is responsible for the SwissFEL Alvra experimental station

Paul Scherrer Institut
Forschungsstrasse 111
5232 Villigen PSI

Chris Milne received his PhD degree in Physical Chemistry in 2006 from the University of Toronto where he worked on 5th-order nonlinear Raman spectroscopy on liquids in the group of Prof. R.J. Dwayne Miller. After this he moved to Switzerland where he joined the Laboratoire de Spectroscopie Ultrarapide with Prof. Majed Chergui at EPFL. From 2006-2012 he was responsible for the group's X-ray experiments at the Swiss Light Source and was stationed at PSI where he worked closely with the FEMTO group. Highlights from this period include the first femtosecond hard X-ray absorption experiments on liquids with the FEMTO laser-electron slicing X-ray source, a pioneering time-resolved X-ray emission spectroscopy solution-phase measurement, and the development of a high-repetition rate portable pump-probe setup that could be used at different SLS beamlines. In 2012 Chris moved to the SwissFEL project, where he was hired to design and develop an experimental station focussed on time-resolved photochemistry and photobiology on the Aramis tender-to-hard X-ray branch of the SwissFEL accelerator. Chris became group leader of the Alvra group in 2018. The SwissFEL Alvra experimental station saw first light in December 2017 and performed its first pilot experiment shortly thereafter. SwissFEL began user operation in January 2019 and Alvra has focussed on performing ultrafast X-ray spectroscopy and scattering experiments on molecules or proteins in solution or viscous media, including being the home for time-resolved serial femtosecond crystallography at SwissFEL.

Chris is currently the group leader of the Alvra group, which is a group of researchers, students and technicians responsible for operating the SwissFEL Alvra experimental station. Alvra research covers a range of topics, including charge carrier dynamics in functional materials, excited-state energy relaxation in molecular species, and structural dynamics in proteins. The Alvra group operates the two Alvra instruments: Prime and Flex, and is responsible for user support for researchers to perform experiments at Alvra. SwissFEL proposal calls are twice a year (March 15 and September 15) through the digital user office (DUO).

Chris' research is focussed on application of ultrafast X-ray techniques to probe energy relaxation processes in molecular systems and functional materials. X-rays are a unique probe for condensed matter since they can provide sub-Angstrom structural information, using techniques such as X-ray diffraction from crystals or X-ray scattering from disordered materials, as well as detailed electronic information, using techniques such as X-ray absorption and emission spectroscopy. By applying these X-ray methods on the ultrafast timescales of femtoseconds (10-15 s) or picoseconds (10-12 s) we can probe the structural and electronic changes in these systems caused by the absorption of light. This allows us to investigate processes in functional materials including electron-phonon scattering and charge-trapping, and in molecular species we can follow metal-to-ligand charge transfer (MLCT), intersystem-crossing (ISC) or spin-crossover processes, and possibly even luminescent processes such as thermally activated delayed fluorescence (TADP). By probing using X-rays we obtain a complementary viewpoint to more common optical techniques, such as ultrafast transient absorption or fluorescence.

You can find a comprehensive list of my publications on my ORCiD, ResearcherID, or Google Scholar page. My publications on the DORA repository are available here. You can find the papers associated with the SwissFEL Alvra experimental station and beamline here.

Some recent publication highlights include:

  1. Nass, K., Cheng, R., Vera, L., Mozzanica, A., Redford, S., Ozerov, D., Basu, S., James, D., Knopp, G., Cirelli, C., Martiel, I., Casadei, C., Weinert, T., Nogly, P., Skopintsev, P., Usov, I., Leonarski, F., Geng, T., Rappas, M., Doré, A., Cooke, R., Shirazi, S., Dworkowski, F., Sharpe, M., Olieric, N., Bacellar, C., Bohinc, R., Steinmetz, M., Schertler, G., Abela, R., Patthey, L., Schmitt, B., Hennig, M., Standfuss, J., Wang, M., Milne, C. (2020). Advances in long-wavelength native phasing at X-ray free-electron lasers IUCrJ 7(6)https://dx.doi.org/10.1107/s2052252520011379
  2. Bacellar, C., Kinschel, D., Mancini, G., Ingle, R., Rouxel, J., Cannelli, O., Cirelli, C., Knopp, G., Szlachetko, J., Lima, F., Menzi, S., Pamfilidis, G., Kubicek, K., Khakhulin, D., Gawelda, W., Rodriguez-Fernandez, A., Biednov, M., Bressler, C., Arrell, C., Johnson, P., Milne, C., Chergui, M. (2020). Spin cascade and doming in ferric hemes: Femtosecond X-ray absorption and X-ray emission studies Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 117(36), 202009490. https://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2009490117
  3. Skopintsev, P., Ehrenberg, D., Weinert, T., James, D., Kar, R., Johnson, P., Ozerov, D., Furrer, A., Martiel, I., Dworkowski, F., Nass, K., Knopp, G., Cirelli, C., Arrell, C., Gashi, D., Mous, S., Wranik, M., Gruhl, T., Kekilli, D., Brünle, S., Deupi, X., Schertler, G., Benoit, R., Panneels, V., Nogly, P., Schapiro, I., Milne, C., Heberle, J., Standfuss, J. (2020). Femtosecond-to-millisecond structural changes in a light-driven sodium pump Nature 583(7815), 314-318. https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2307-8
  4. Smolentsev, G., Milne, C., Guda, A., Haldrup, K., Szlachetko, J., Azzaroli, N., Cirelli, C., Knopp, G., Bohinc, R., Menzi, S., Pamfilidis, G., Gashi, D., Beck, M., Mozzanica, A., James, D., Bacellar, C., Mancini, G., Tereshchenko, A., Shapovalov, V., Kwiatek, W., Czapla-Masztafiak, J., Cannizzo, A., Gazzetto, M., Sander, M., Levantino, M., Kabanova, V., Rychagova, E., Ketkov, S., Olaru, M., Beckmann, J., Vogt, M. (2020). Taking a snapshot of the triplet excited state of an OLED organometallic luminophore using X-rays. Nature Communications 11(1), 2131. https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-15998-z
  5. Kayser, Y., Milne, C., Juranić, P., Sala, L., Czapla-Masztafiak, J., Follath, R., Kavčič, M., Knopp, G., Rehanek, J., Błachucki, W., Delcey, M., Lundberg, M., Tyrała, K., Zhu, D., Alonso-Mori, R., Abela, R., Sá, J., Szlachetko, J. (2019). Core-level nonlinear spectroscopy triggered by stochastic X-ray pulses. Nature Communications 10(1), 4761. https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-12717-1
  6. Katayama, T., Northey, T., Gawelda, W., Milne, C., Vankó, G., Lima, F., Bohinc, R., Németh, Z., Nozawa, S., Sato, T., Khakhulin, D., Szlachetko, J., Togashi, T., Owada, S., Adachi, S., Bressler, C., Yabashi, M., Penfold, T. (2019). Tracking multiple components of a nuclear wavepacket in photoexcited Cu(I)-phenanthroline complex using ultrafast X-ray spectroscopy. Nature Communications 10(1), 3606. https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-11499-w
  7. Nogly, P., Weinert, T., James, D., Carbajo, S., Ozerov, D., Furrer, A., Gashi, D., Borin, V., Skopintsev, P., Jaeger, K., Nass, K., Båth, P., Bosman, R., Koglin, J., Seaberg, M., Lane, T., Kekilli, D., Brünle, S., Tanaka, T., Wu, W., Milne, C., White, T., Barty, A., Weierstall, U., Panneels, V., Nango, E., Iwata, S., Hunter, M., Schapiro, I., Schertler, G., Neutze, R., Standfuss, J. (2018). Retinal isomerization in bacteriorhodopsin captured by a femtosecond x-ray laser. Science 361(6398), eaat0094. https://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aat0094
  8. Penfold, T., Szlachetko, J., Santomauro, F., Britz, A., Gawelda, W., Doumy, G., March, A., Southworth, S., Rittmann, J., Abela, R., Chergui, M., Milne, C. (2018). Revealing hole trapping in zinc oxide nanoparticles by time-resolved X-ray spectroscopy. Nature Communications 9(1), 478. https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-02870-4
  9. Milne, C., Schietinger, T., Aiba, M., Alarcon, A., Alex, J., Anghel, A., Arsov, V., Beard, C., Beaud, P., Bettoni, S., Bopp, M., Brands, H., Brönnimann, M., Brunnenkant, I., Calvi, M., Citterio, A., Craievich, P., Divall, M., Dällenbach, M., D’Amico, M., Dax, A., Deng, Y., Dietrich, A., Dinapoli, R., Divall, E., Dordevic, S., Ebner, S., Erny, C., Fitze, H., Flechsig, U., Follath, R., Frei, F., Gärtner, F., Ganter, R., Garvey, T., Geng, Z., Gorgisyan, I., Gough, C., Hauff, A., Hauri, C., Hiller, N., Humar, T., Hunziker, S., Ingold, G., Ischebeck, R., Janousch, M., Juranić, P., Jurcevic, M., Kaiser, M., Kalantari, B., Kalt, R., Keil, B., Kittel, C., Knopp, G., Koprek, W., Lemke, H., Lippuner, T., Sancho, D., Löhl, F., Lopez-Cuenca, C., Märki, F., Marcellini, F., Marinkovic, G., Martiel, I., Menzel, R., Mozzanica, A., Nass, K., Orlandi, G., Loch, C., Panepucci, E., Paraliev, M., Patterson, B., Pedrini, B., Pedrozzi, M., Pollet, P., Pradervand, C., Prat, E., Radi, P., Raguin, J., Redford, S., Rehanek, J., Réhault, J., Reiche, S., Ringele, M., Rittmann, J., Rivkin, L., Romann, A., Ruat, M., Ruder, C., Sala, L., Schebacher, L., Schilcher, T., Schlott, V., Schmidt, T., Schmitt, B., Shi, X., Stadler, M., Stingelin, L., Sturzenegger, W., Szlachetko, J., Thattil, D., Treyer, D., Trisorio, A., Tron, W., Vetter, S., Vicario, C., Voulot, D., Wang, M., Zamofing, T., Zellweger, C., Zennaro, R., Zimoch, E., Abela, R., Patthey, L., Braun, H. (2017). SwissFEL: The Swiss X-ray Free Electron Laser. Applied Sciences 7(7), 720. https://dx.doi.org/10.3390/app7070720
  10. Seddon, E., Clarke, J., Dunning, D., Masciovecchio, C., Milne, C., Parmigiani, F., Rugg, D., Spence, J., Thompson, N., Ueda, K., Vinko, S., Wark, J., Wurth, W. (2017). Short-wavelength free-electron laser sources and science: a review. Reports on Progress in Physics 80(11), 115901. https://dx.doi.org/10.1088/1361-6633/aa7cca


  1. Wojciech Gawelda, Jakub Szlachetko, and Christopher Milne, “X-Ray Spectroscopy At Free Electron Lasers,” in XAS and XES; theory and applications, C. Lamberti, J. van Bokhoven, eds. Wiley, 2016. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118844243.ch22

  2. Kathrin Jaeger, Florian Dworkowski, Przemyslaw Nogly, Christopher Milne, Meitian Wang, and Joerg Standfuss, “Serial Millisecond Crystallography of Membrane Proteins,” in The Next Generation in Membrane Protein Structure Determination, I. Moraes ed. Springer International Publishing, 2016. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-35072-1_10

  3. Christopher J. Milne, “X-ray Sources and Detectors,” in High-Resolution XAS/XES: Analyzing Electronic Structures of Catalysts, J. Sa, ed., Ch. 1, pp. 1–25. CRC Press, 2014. http://dx.doi.org/10.1201/b17184-2

  4. C. J. Milne, Y. L. Li, and R. J. D. Miller, “Two-dimensional 5th-order Raman spectroscopy: A new tool for the study of liquid state dynamics,” in Time resolved spectroscopy in complex liquids: An experimental perspective, R. Torre, ed., Ch. 1, pp. 1–72. Springer, New York, 2008. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-25558-3