Geoffrey A. (Geoff) Blake

Professor of Cosmochemistry and Planetary Sciences and Professor of Chemistry
B.S., Duke University, 1981; Ph.D., Caltech, 1986. Assistant Professor of Cosmochemistry, 1987-93; Associate Professor of Cosmochemistry and Planetary Sciences, 1993-97; Professor, 1997-99; Professor of Cosmochemistry and Planetary Sciences and Professor of Chemistry, 1999-. Deputy Director, Owens Valley Radio Observatory, 2000-06; Master of Student Houses, 2009-14.
Complexity is a hallmark of the natural world. For cosmochemical and geochemical systems this complexity often extends to the molecular level. During the past decade tremendous strides have been made in the chemical sciences as advances in microelectronics, lasers, materials science, etc. have all converged to produce instrumentation of unparalleled speed, sensitivity, and flexibility. For the most part these advances have been driven by technological considerations, but the application of state-of-the-art chemical techniques to astrophysics and to the earth and planetary sciences holds the potential to revolutionize the analysis of complex natural materials.

The Blake group (with links to current and past members) applies innovative spectroscopic tools to investigate the chemical and physical processes that operate in natural environments ranging from the interstellar medium to the heart of living cells. The ultimate goal of this work is a detailed understanding of the evolution of molecular diversity from atoms in the interstellar medium or from simple chemical precursors in laboratory syntheses to complex molecules and aggregates throughout the solar system, in life, and in the devices utilized by man. We carry out both remote sensing and laboratory studies, and we are actively developing new spectrometers across the Ultraviolet/Visible (UV/Vis, 200-1000 nm), Infrared (IR, 1-30 µm), and Terahertz (THz, 30-1000 µm) regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Complementing the light source development are three major scientific areas of active research. To learn more about any of them, or about the instruments themselves, simply follow the links below.

Star formation & molecular astrophysics
Atmospheric chemistry & biogeochemistry
THz & PFI-ZEKE cluster spectroscopy
Coherent light sources & spectrometers

Selected Publications 

For a complete publications list, see

http://web.gps.caltech.edu/options/planetary/Faculty/Blake_Publications.html

 

Blake Group Thesis

"The Contribution of Molecular Line Emission to Broadband Flux Measurements at Millimeter and Submillimeter Wavelengths" Todd Groesbeck, Ph.D. Thesis (Physics, Prof. Tom Phillips, Primary Advisor), California Institute of Technology (1995).

"The Circumstellar Environment of FU Orionis Stars" Stuart McMuldroch, Ph.D. Thesis (Planetary Science, Prof. Anneila Sargent, Primary Advisor), California Institute of Technology (1995).

"Towards a More Quantitative Understanding of Intermolecular Interactions: Biologically Significant Intermolecular Clusters" Sakae Suzuki, Ph.D. Thesis (Chemistry), California Institute of Technology (1995).

"Microwave and Far-Infrared Spectroscopy of Water-containing, Hydrogen-bonded Dimers: Vibrational, Rotational, and Tunneling Dynamics" Paul Alan Stockman, Ph.D. Thesis (Chemistry), California Institute of Technology (1996).

"Spectroscopic Studies of the Gas Phase Complexes Benzene-Ammonia, Sodium-Water, and Sodium-Ammonia" David Allen Rodham, Ph.D. Thesis (Chemistry), California Institute of Technology (1997).

"THz Generation via Optical-Heterodyne Conversion: Development of a New Far-Infrared Spectrometer & Its Application toward a Better Understanding of Nonrigid Molecules" Pin Chen, Ph.D. Thesis (Chemistry), California Institute of Technology (1999).

"Development of Broadly Tunable Parametric Lasers & their Application to Alkali Metal-Small Molecule Cluster Spectroscopy" Sheng Wu, Ph.D. Thesis (Chemistry), California Institute of Technology (1999). (PDF Format, 1.3 MB)

"Photochemistry in N2O and HNO4: A Window into the Global Biogeochemistry of Nitrogen" Hui Zhang, Ph.D. Thesis (Planetary Science, Prof. Paul Wennberg, Co-Advisor), California Institute of Technology (2001). (PDF Format, 2.1 MB) (G'zipped Postscript, 5.5 MB)

"Aperture Synthesis Studies of the Chemical Composition of Protoplanetary Disks and Comets" Chunhua Qi, Ph.D. Thesis (Planetary Science), California Institute of Technology (2001). (PDF Format, 6.8 MB) (G'zipped Postscript, 6.6 MB)

"New Measurements of the Ground and v2=1 States of HDO in the 200-750 GHz Region" Melissa Kelly, M.S. Thesis (Chemical Physics), California Institute of Technology (2002).

``Gas and Dust Chemistry in Planet-Forming Disks'' Jacqueline Kessler-Silacci, Ph.D. Thesis (Chemistry), California Institute of Technology (2004). (PDF Format, 6.5 MB)

``Photophysical Properties of Protonated Aromatic Hydrocarbons,'' Vadym A. Kapinus, Ph.D. Thesis (Chemistry), California Institute of Technology (2005). (PDF Format, 9.5 MB)

``Rotational Spectroscopy and Observational Astronomy of Prebiotic Molecules'' Susanna L. Widicus Weaver, Ph.D. Thesis (Chemistry), California Institute of Technology (2005).

Theses in progress:

Rogier Braakman (Chemistry, Laboratory/astronomical THz spectroscopy)
Joanna Brown (Astronomy, Gas Dissipation Timescales in Disks)
Daniel Holland (Chemistry, Infrared fluorescence measurements of stable isotope ratios)
Matthew Kelley (Chemistry, Laboratory/astronomical spectroscopy of molecular ions)
Colette Salyk (Planetary Science, Gas versus dust probes of disks)

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