Mitchio Okumura

Professor of Chemical Physics

Mail Code: MC 127-72
Office: 104 Noyes Laboratory
Phone: 626-395-6557
Email: mo@​caltech.edu
Administrative Assistant:
B.S., Yale University, 1979; M.S., 1979; C.P.G.S., University of Cambridge, 1980; Ph.D., University of California, 1986. Assistant Professor, Caltech, 1988-94; Associate Professor, 1994-2003; Professor, 2003-. Executive Officer, 2006-10.
Research Areas: Chemistry

Research Interests

Laser Spectroscopy, KInetics and Reaction Dynamics; Atmospheric Chemistry


The Okumura Group is interested in the application of laser spectroscopy and reaction dynamics to problems in atmospheric chemistry and climate change. We study atmospheric free radicals and transient intermediates in order to understand the reactions and photochemistry that are most important in the troposphere and stratosphere, as well as in planetary atmospheres such as those of Mars and Titan. Our goal is both to determine parameters of key reactions and species in the atmosphere, and to understand the chemical physics of these processes at the most fundamental level. To achieve high sensitivities required for these experiments, we develop and apply state-of-the-art methods such as cavity-enhanced spectroscopy, frequency comb lasers, and VUV mass spectrometry using synchrotron radiation. We also apply high resolution spectroscopy for measuring spectroscopic parameters needed for the latest generation of CO2 satellites. Our group has extensive collaborations with scientists at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. 

• Laser spectroscopy of reactive intermediates

• Development of methods in cavity-enhanced, cavity-ringdown and frequency comb laser spectroscopy

• Reaction rates, mechanisms and dynamics of free radicals, clusters, and transient species

• Chemistry of peroxyl and alkoxyl radicals

• Photochemistry and photodissociation dynamics

• Nonadiabatic effects and multiple surfaces in radical reactions

• Kinetic isotope effects; clumped isotopes 

• High precision spectroscopy with applications in remote sensing of greenhouse gases such as NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2) mission