The Tokmakoff group uses ultrafast vibrational spectroscopy to study chemical dynamics in water and the molecular dynamics of biological processes. We are interested in understanding how the dynamical nature of water's hydrogen bond network influences its physical properties, aqueous chemical reactions, hydrophobicity, and how water influences the structure and dynamics of proteins and DNA. We want to understand how proteins fold, recognize, and bind one another at a molecular level; and the structural fluctuations and hybridization of DNA.
The challenge with these problems is the need for experimental tools that can watch molecular structures change in real time. We develop advanced instrumentation and ultrafast infrared light sources for structure-sensitive vibrational spectroscopies, such as 2D IR spectroscopy, and apply these methods to characterize molecular dynamics on time-scales varying from 10−14 to 103 seconds. Experiments are complemented by theoretical work on nonlinear spectroscopy, statistical mechanical modeling, and molecular dynamics computer simulations.
Our research is supported by the Department of Energy, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation.
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