Ignacio Franco

Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Physics
PhD, University of Toronto, 2007

454 Hutchison Hall
(585) 275-8209



About Ignacio

Ignacio joined the Chemistry faculty at the University of Rochester in July, 2013. Ignacio received his B.Sc. in chemistry from the National University of Colombia in 2001. In 2002, after completing the diploma program in condensed matter physics at The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, he moved to the University of Toronto to pursue a Ph.D. in theoretical chemical physics under the guidance of Paul Brumer. Ignacio’s Ph.D. work was in the field of Quantum Control and focused on investigating the use of lasers to induce ultrafast controllable currents along nanoscale junctions. In 2008 he joined Northwestern as a postdoctoral fellow in the groups of Mark A. Ratner and George C. Schatz where he worked on the theory and simulation of single-molecule pulling experiments. He then moved to Berlin to take a position as group leader and Humboldt research fellow in the Theory Department of the Fritz Haber Institute in 2011, where he worked on electronic decoherence processes in molecules.

Research Overview

Research in the Franco group focuses on theory and computation as it applies to dynamical processes occurring at the nanoscale.  We are particularly interested in new methods to probe and control the behavior of matter by means of external stimuli, a topic that we like to refer to as “Molecules Under Stress”. We tackle emerging problems at the interface between Chemistry, Physics and Nanoscience. 

Problems that are currently of interest in our group include:

  • Laser control of electronic properties and dynamics
  • Electronic decoherence in molecules
  • Theory and simulation of single-molecule pulling processes
  • Molecular electronics
  • Novel spectroscopies and control in single-molecule junctions

Selected Publications

  • Pirrotta, A., Solomon, G.C., and Franco, I. “Hydrogen-bonding in tight environments: simulated force spectroscopy of nanoconfined hydrogen bonded complexes” J. Phys. Chem. C, 2016, 120, 19470.
  • Kar, A., Chen, L., Franco, I. “Understanding the fundamental connection between electronic correlation and decoherence” J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 2016, 7, 1616.
  • Izmaylov, A.F., and Franco, I. “Entanglement in the Born-Oppenheimer Approximation”(https://arxiv.org/abs/1605.07034)
  • Chen, L., Hansen, T., and Franco, I. "Simple and accurate method for time-dependent transport along nanoscale junctions," J. Phys. Chem. C, 2014, 118, 20009.
  • Albareda, G., Appel, H., Franco, I., Abedi, A., and Rubio, A. "Correlated electron-nuclear dynamics with conditional wave functions," Phys. Rev. Lett., 2014, 113, 083003.
  • Parker, S.M., Smeu, M., Franco, I., Ratner, M.A., and Seiderman, T. "Molecular junctions: can pulling influence optical controllability?," Nano Lett., 2014, 14, 4587.
  • Franco, I., and Appel, H. "Reduced purities as measures of decoherence in many-electron systems," J. Chem. Phys. 2013, 139, 094109.
  • Franco, I., Rubio, A., and Brumer, P. "Long-lived oscillatory incoherent electron dynamics in molecules: trans-polyacetylene," New J. Phys. 2013, 15, 043004.
  • McCullagh, M., Franco, I., Ratner, M. A., and Schatz, G. C. "Defects in DNA: Lessons from Molecular Motor Design," J. Phys. Chem. Lett 2012, 3, 689-693.
  • Franco, I., George, C. B., Solomon, G. C., Schatz, G. C., and Ratner, M. A. "Mechanically activated molecular switch through single-molecule pulling," J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2011, 133, 2242-2249.
  • Franco, I., Spanner, M., and Brumer, P. "Quantum interferences and their classical limit in laser-driven coherent control scenarios," Chem. Phys 2010, 370, 143-150.
  • Franco, I., Schatz, G. C., and Ratner, M. A. "Single-molecule pulling and the folding of donor-acceptor oligorotaxanes: phenomenology and interpretation," J. Chem. Phys. 2009, 131, 124902.
  • Franco, I., Shapiro, M., and Brumer, P. "Robust ultrafast current in molecular wires through Stark shifts," Phys. Rev. Lett. 2007, 99, 126802.