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John Thrower

I am the laboratory scientist under InterCat, supporting the experimental laboratory activities of the center at Aarhus University.

I have over 15 years’ experience in the field of laboratory astrophysics, completing a PhD under the supervision of Prof. Martin McCoustra at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh in 2009. Prior to this, I obtained an MSci degree in Chemistry and Molecular Physics from the University of Nottingham. My PhD research focussed on the thermal and non-thermal desorption of small aromatic species from interstellar dust grain mimics based on amorphous silicates.

In 2009 I took up a postdoctoral research associate position at Aarhus University under the supervision of Prof. Liv Hornekær where I performed measurements demonstrating the catalytic role played by PAH molecules in H2 formation under interstellar conditions. In 2013 I moved to the dynamics at surfaces group of Prof. Helmut Zacharias Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster in Germany. During my time in the group I performed low temperature thermal desorption measurements probing, for the first time, the desorption of small molecules from crystalline interstellar silicates. I also headed a project at the free-electron laser "FLASH" at DESY in Hamburg demonstrating the soft x-ray induced desorption of carbonaceous molecules from graphite, revealing the ejection of carbon clusters as well as a variety of product ions.

In 2018 I returned to Aarhus to work on the GRANN (Graphene Coated Nanoparticles and Nanograins) project headed by Liv Hornekær. In July 2020 I took up my present position as the InterCat Laboratory Scientist.

Laboratory Scientist

+45 8715 5584


1520-333 Ny Munkegade 120

DK-8000 Aarhus C 


My research

My role in InterCat is to support the laboratory activities of the center in Aarhus, maintaining the existing ultrahigh vacuum systems in the laboratory and leading the development of new systems envisaged during the course of the center. I will provide assistance to the researchers drawing on my expertise in ultrahigh vacuum surface science including quadrupole mass spectrometry, scanning tunneling microscopy and cryogenic techniques.  More details about my research interests and list of publications can be found on my homepage.