Charles V. Shank

Charles V. Shank

Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, Physics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences

office: 50A-4133D LB
phone: 510-486-5111
fax: 510-486-6720

Research Interests

Physical Chemistry — Ultrafast dynamics of molecular vibrations and chemical reactions are studied with femtosecond optical pulses.

Professor Shank is intrigued by ultrafast processes in matter that occur on a time scale measured in femtoseconds. Recent advances in laser pulse generation and measurement techniques have opened up the possibility of experimental investigations in the femtosecond time domain. Such techniques have shown great promise for exploring a new class of problems concerning nonequilibrium phenomena in the condensed phase. In his laboratory his group is currently performing measurements which permit them to probe molecular dynamics in solution in a time short compared to a molecular vibration.

Recent work in his laboratory has included the study of dephasing of an optically excited polarization of a molecule in solution. In the past, attempts at such measurements have been frustrated by the lack of adequate time resolution. Two and three pulse photon echo experiments have been performed using 6 femtosecond optical pulses. Shank's group hopes to use these investigations to determine the role of solvent interactions and internal molecular degrees of freedom in the dephasing process.

With a sufficiently short optical pulse, it is possible to excite the entire manifold on Franck-Condon connected states for the first excited singlet for a molecule in solution. If the pulse is short compared to a vibrational period, it is possible to excite a nonstationary state which can be described by wavepacket motion on the excited and ground states of the molecule. This technique is being used to measure vibrational spectra of molecules undergoing photochemistry.


  • Born 1943
  • B.S. (1965)
  • M.S. (1966)
  • Ph. D. (1969) in Electrical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley
  • AT & T Bell Laboratories: Member of Technical Staff (1969-76)
  • Head, Quantum Physics & Electronics Research Department (1976-83)
  • Director, Electronics Research Laboratory, (1983-89)
  • R.W. Wood Prize (1981)
  • Franklin Institute Edward Longstreth Medal (1982)
  • IEEE Morris E. ds Award (1983)
  • Regent's Lecturer, University of California (1984)
  • Chairman, NJ Commission of Science and Technology Panel on Photonics (1988)
  • Member, California Council on Science and Technology (1989)
  • Member, National Critical Technologies Panel, Executive Office of the President, Office of Science and Technology (1990)
  • David Sarnoff Award (1989)
  • Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award (1990)
  • SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering Edgerton Award (1990)
  • Fellow, AAAS, APS, IEEEE, OSA
  • Elected Member, National Academy of Engineering (1983)
  • National Academy of Sciences (1984)