Molecular Spectroscopy with Applications to Remote Sensing
Our research activities focus on high resolution molecular spectroscopy: the study of the structure and spectra of molecules of practical importance to the environment, astronomy, and fundamental science by examining the frequencies of light that they absorb and emit.
High-resolution molecular spectroscopy in the laboratory is a sophisticated tool for obtaining highly accurate information on the intrinsic properties of gas phase molecules as well as properties resulting from the interaction between molecules. The measured data render possible the analysis of molecular spectra in environments such as the upper layers of the terrestrial atmosphere, interstellar space, the atmospheres of comets and cool stars. Based on the combined information from spectra obtained in the laboratory and those obtained directly from remote objects, the chemical composition of the remote environments, as well as other properties such as the temperature, can be determined. From such information, supplemented by the results of theoretical calculations performed in my lab, we can deepen our knowledge about molecular structures, the dynamical properties of molecules, and the pathways and energetics of molecular reactions. By using the intense and highly collimated light from the synchrotron, we can record spectra with an astonishingly high signal-to-noise ratio in a relatively short time, and this advantage puts us currently in the best position in the world to acquire spectra with resolved rotational structure even from large molecules.
An important result of laboratory spectroscopic research is the compilation of spectroscopic databases (HITRAN, GEISA) containing information about spectral line positions, intensities and line shapes, aimed at facilitating the analysis of spectra from remote environments. Ongoing technological developments produce “remote” spectra of increasingly higher quality. Analysis and interpretation of these improved “remote” spectra call for a substantial increase in the amount and quality of spectroscopic database information.