X-ray spectroscopy serves to characterize the environment of atoms in dilute concentrations. Serena DeBeer's group has extended this methodology to the element calcium, which is essential for the conversion of sunlight into chemical energy during natural photosynthesis. An essential step in photosynthesis is the splitting of water at a catalyst composed of Mn and Ca ions. Even for complicated molecules, Serena DeBeer can now use experimental and computational Ca X-ray absorption spectroscopy to analyze the Ca environment, e.g. to understand how many neighbors the ions have and how ordered their surrounding is. The next step will be to study the water splitting catalyst in photosynthesis.
Ca K-Edge XAS as a Probe of Calcium Centers in Complex Systems
Inorg. Chem., 2015, 54 (4), pp 1283–1292