Faculty Profile

V. Ara Apkarian
Group Page

University of California, Irvine
Department of Chemistry
2125 Natural Sciences II
Irvine, California, 92697-2025
Telephone: 949-824-6851
E-mail: aapkaria@uci.edu


Chemical Physics

The major thrust of our research is directed toward providing a fundamental understanding of photophysics and chemical dynamics in condensed media. Both experimental and theoretical studies are conducted on what may be regarded as model systems: systems, such as doped van der Waals solids and fluids, which are simple enough to afford a first principles understanding of elementary photoprocesses. The major challenge in understanding dynamics in condensed media arises from the many-body nature of interactions. Collective electronic and nuclear degrees of freedom must be taken into account in rigorous descriptions of even the simplest of chemical processes, such as the breaking or making of a chemical bond. An understanding of many-body effects is at present sought in a variety of phenomena: laser-induced coherences, charge transfer reactions, photodissociation, shock-induced chemistry, atomic and molecular mobility and diffusion, bimolecular reactions in liquids, and photodynamics in quantum hosts. Besides the fundamental interests in these investigations, several practical applications are pursued. The devise of the first solid-state exciplex lasers, optical energy storage via charge separation and self-trapping, the devise of energetic materials such as cryogenic propellants, and the initiation of shock induced chemistry in solids, are examples.

The experimental studies invariably involve laser-based spectroscopic techniques, which are implemented in both frequency and time domain, over the spectral range from far infrared to the deep ultraviolet. The time resolution of studies stretches to the femtosecond domain, which enables the observation of atomic motions on a freeze-frame basis, and therefore provides the means for following and controlling chem istry as it evolves from reagents to products. Given the multidimensional nature of dynamics in condensed media, an atomistic level of understanding of the experimental findings is only possible by comparisons with detailed simulations. Iteration between laboratory experiments and computer experiments, i.e., large-scale simulations, is the method we rely on to make progress in our understanding of many-body dynamics and energetics.


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