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Terahertz Time Domain Spectroscopy of Amino Acids and Sugars


Kelley, Matthew James (2013) Terahertz Time Domain Spectroscopy of Amino Acids and Sugars. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/FQ9S-JF63.


A time-domain spectrometer for use in the terahertz (THz) spectral range was designed and constructed. Due to there being few existing methods of generating and detecting THz radiation, the spectrometer is expected to have vast applications to solid, liquid, and gas phase samples. In particular, knowledge of complex organic chemistry and chemical abundances in the interstellar medium (ISM) can be obtained when compared to astronomical data. The THz spectral region is of particular interest due to reduced line density when compared to the millimeter wave spectrum, the existence of high resolution observatories, and potentially strong transitions resulting from the lowest-lying vibrational modes of large molecules.

The heart of the THz time-domain spectrometer (THz-TDS) is the ultrafast laser. Due to the femtosecond duration of ultrafast laser pulses and an energy-time uncertainty relationship, the pulses typically have a several-THz bandwidth. By various means of optical rectification, the optical pulse carrier envelope shape, i.e. intensity-time profile, can be transferred to the phase of the resulting THz pulse. As a consequence, optical pump-THz probe spectroscopy is readily achieved, as was demonstrated in studies of dye-sensitized TiO2, as discussed in chapter 4. Detection of the terahertz radiation is commonly based on electro-optic sampling and provides full phase information. This allows for accurate determination of both the real and imaginary index of refraction, the so-called optical constants, without additional analysis. A suite of amino acids and sugars, all of which have been found in meteorites, were studied in crystalline form embedded in a polyethylene matrix. As the temperature was varied between 10 and 310 K, various strong vibrational modes were found to shift in spectral intensity and frequency. Such modes can be attributed to intramolecular, intermolecular, or phonon modes, or to some combination of the three.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Terahertz ; THz ; Far-Infrared ; GABA ; Amino Acid ; Sugar
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
Major Option:Chemistry
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Blake, Geoffrey A.
Group:Astronomy Department
Thesis Committee:
  • Gray, Harry B. (chair)
  • Okumura, Mitchio
  • Miller, Thomas F.
  • Blake, Geoffrey A.
Defense Date:18 March 2013
Non-Caltech Author Email:mjkelley3 (AT)
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:04232013-183107863
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:7629
Deposited By: Matthew Kelley
Deposited On:13 May 2013 18:29
Last Modified:08 Nov 2023 00:16

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