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Albert Okhrimenko

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Researching Electronically Excited States of Metalloporphyrins

Albert Okhrimenko

I fell in love with chemistry being a high school student. During that time the word “chemical” was added to my vocabulary. Then, during my university years at Mendeleyev University of Chemical Technology I acquired a lot of experience of independent research work, adding the word “science” to my colloquial speech. Thus, chemical science became a part of my life and pretty much defined my future career. I was familiar with the word “photo” only pertaining to the process of taking pictures, and I didn’t realize it could be science at all. After completing my Chemical Engineering degree with a major in organic synthesis, I started my industrial career at Procter & Gamble in Russia, but the urge to continue my work as a scientist grew day after day. My first acquaintance with photochemical sciences is what you would normally call serendipitous. A single phone call from my former adviser gave me a chance to go back into scientific life. I applied for the Ph.D. degree at BGSU and got accepted. And only after that I found out that the word “photo” meant not only taking pictures but also encompassed the whole world around us, light itself. By scrutinizing the cornucopia of literature on the subject I became more and more interested in the photosciences. The fact that BGSU had a special center for research on light and its interactions with matter assured me that the Center for Photochemical Sciences is the place I wanted to be in order to advance my knowledge in chemistry and gain new skills as a researcher. Finally, the words “photo”, “chemistry”, and “science” came together as a single unit capable of enriching my life as a scientist.

Photo

Three years ago I joined the research group of Dr. Michael A. J. Rodgers and have since been working under his guidance and supervision. And again, new discoveries and new techniques opened their horizons before me. The main research focus of Rodgers’ group is general photoscience involving interrogation of different molecules with laser light. Actually, you’d be surprised what a powerful tool a laser can be. It doesn’t mean of course that we use lasers to burn and destroy stuff, we are not Star Wars people, you know. Laser is a source of light, and moreover, a light that you can control and benefit from. I had to study a lot of optics and quantum physics phenomena to feel at home in our laser lab. So basically for me it meant switching from chemistry to physics, in a way. Light is a form of energy and its interaction with matter is one of the most fundamental and important of natural phenomena. Human existence is completely dependent on the foodstuffs generated in the photosynthetic process by the absorption of sunlight by green plants. Photosynthesis is one of the multitudes of processes that cannot proceed under thermal conditions but are driven by the input of light energy. It is one of the phenomena under the overall umbrella of photosciences. The current availability of laser excitation sources with short duration pulses coupled with high time resolution diagnostic instrumentation enables the experimenter to study a large variety of photoinduced processes occurring over a wide range of timescales. Using ultrafast femtosecond lasers in our laboratory enables conducting research at the edge of time.

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