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Pure Appl. Chem., 2001, Vol. 73, No. 3, pp. 395-403

Twentieth century developments in photochemistry. Brief historical sketches

Heinz D. Roth

Department of Chemistry, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08854-8087, USA

Abstract: In the 20th century, photochemistry blossomed from a poorly defined to a highly sophisticated science. Early breakthroughs in exploratory photochemistry and the underlying physical principles led to new diverse, yet inter-related areas of research. The alluring goal of asymmetric synthesis with circularly polarized light proved elusive. The discovery of the electron brought a gradual awakening to the idea of electron transfer. Time-resolved spectroscopy developed from ms to fs resolution. The field of photosynthesis progressed from an interest in function and structure of photosynthetic pigments to the isolation and structure elucidation of photosynthetic reaction centers (rhodobacter sphaeroides), to the detailed kinetics of sequential electron-transfer steps in natural and synthetic light-harvesting systems.