In his research, Sander Woutersen uses ultrashort light pulses as a live tracking device to investigate chemical reactions and other molecular processes. Infrared light makes it possible to observe these processes in detail, down to the level of specific chemical bonds in molecules. Using this technique, Woutersen contributes to unraveling the mechanisms of protein folding (and misfolding), catalysis, proton transport and the movement of molecular machines.
Woutersen has worked at the UvA's Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences since 2006, and as associate professor since 2009. Before this he was a project leader at the FOM Institute AMOLF. As a postdoctoral researcher he was based at the Max-Born-Institut für Nichtlineare Optik und Kurzzeitspektroskopie in Berlin.
Woutersen is the recipient of various grants, including ECHO grants from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), Projectruimte grants from the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM), a Starting grant from the European Research Council (ERC) and a Vidi grant from the NWO.