Nature has developed extraordinary tools for collection of visible light and using it for vision and for the production of chemical energy. Doing so is not trivial, since most of the oragnic molecules, the basic building blocks of life, are transpartent to visible light. The small class of molecules which do interact with visible light are called biochromophores.
How does life interact with light?
The goal of our laboratory is to understand the basic quantum mechanics behind the function of these molecules. We wish to understand how these molecules absorb light and what happens to the molecule following photoabsorption. We want to understand how the structure of biochromophore affects its absoprtion, and how absorption affects the structure of the molecule. In doing so we hope to arrive at better understanding of the physics governing light matter interaction.
Naturally biochromophores are found in the center of proteins, which are located on the membranes of cells. Our approach at arriving at a fundamental understanding of their properties is to measure the chromophores when they are completely isolated from their surroundings, in the gas phase. In doing so we can study their intrinsic properties and compare them directly with calculations.