Department Web-Page

Dr. Jack Saltiel

Dr. Jack Saltiel


Ph.D. (1964) California Institute of Technology

Contact Information
615 DLC 850.644.5405
649 DLC 850.644.8266
Programs of Research
Research Website
Research Specialities
Environment and Energy, Photochemistry, Spectroscopy and Dynamics, Synthesis and Catalysis
1 Graduate; 2 Postdoc

Research Interest


We aim to determine the role, multiplicity, and geometry of key electronically excited and ground-state intermediates, applying both chemical and spectroscopic means. We are guided by the premise that a detailed understanding of simple photochemical reactions establishes the proper foundation for the study of more complex photochemical and photobiological systems. Our methods include quantitative measurements of product quantum yields, determination of rate constants by employing steady-state and transient emission and absorption spectroscopy, use of triplet excitation transfer to sensitize or quench triplet reaction pathways, and studies of the effects of medium and temperature on the photochemical and photophysical events. An important goal is the integration of all the information into a self-consistent kinetics model for each reaction. Much of this work depends on the use of computers.


A connecting thread that runs through much of our research is the elucidation of the various pathways that lead to the cis-trans photoisomerization of olefins. We continue to extend our well-recognized studies on stilbenes and 1,3-dienes to the diphenylpolyenes and the styrylarenes, molecules that combine properties of both systems. We have developed the method of principal component analysis with self-modeling (PCA-SM) to resolve the spectra of such systems into the separate contributions from distinct conformers. The ability to define conformer-specific photochemistry and photophysics has led to several unambiguous validations of Havinga’s (nonequilibrating excited rotamers) NEER principle. For instance, the pronounced excitation wavelength dependence of the cis-trans photoisomerization and photocyclization of cis-1-(2-naphthyl)-2-phenylethene ( c-NPE, Scheme 1) is analogous to that in previtamin D and is quantitatively explained in terms of selective conformer excitation. This is strong evidence that recent challenges to Havinga’s NEER principle explanation of vitamin D related photochemistry are incorrect.

We have applied the methods developed in our conformer work (PCA-SM and the related singular value decomposition - SVD) to the resolution of spectral matrices describing the time evolution of the intermediates in the photocycles of bacteriorhodopsin (BR) and selected site-specific mutants of BR. Our approach has the advantage in that it yields extremely accurate intermediate spectra and their time evolution as an initial step and relegates selection of a kinetics model for their interconversion to the final stage of the analysis. Fruitful research collaborations are in progress with research groups worldwide.

Thirty years after Warshell first proposed the bicycle-pedal mechanism for photoisomerization in volume restricting media, we have uncovered several examples of this reaction in glassy media at 77 K and in the solid state at room temperature. In contrast, the Hula-twist, the competing mechanism under such conditions is not supported by our results.

Dr. Saltiel was a recipient of an NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of California at Berkeley, an R. A. Welch Foundation Lectureship, and the 1998 Florida Award from the Florida sections of the American Chemical Society; he is also an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow. Dr. Saltiel was honored for his work in photochemistry in a symposium at the 1998 National ACS meeting in Boston and in a special issue of the Journal of Physical Chemistry [102, 5320–5321 (1998)].


Saltiel, J.; R. Kumar, V. K.; Redwood, C. E.; Mallory, F. B.; Mallory, C. W. Competing adiabatic and nonadiabatic pathways in the cis-trans photoisomerization of cis-1,2-di(1-methyl-2-naphthyl)ethene. A zwitterionic twisted intermediate Photochem. Photobiol. Sci. submitted.
  • Redwood, C. E.; Kanvah, S.; Samudrala, R.; Saltiel, J. Bicycle pedal photoisomerization of 1-phenyl-4-(4-pyridyl)-1,3-butadienes in glassy isopentane at 77 K Photochem. Photobiol. Sci. ASAP, DOI:10.1039/C3PP50064K
  • Redwood, C.; Bayda, M.; Saltiel, J. Photoisomerization of Pre- and Provitamin D3 in EPA at 77 K: One Bond-Twist Not Hula-Twist J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 2013, 117, 716-721
    Saltiel, J.; Kumar, R. V. K. The Photophysics of Diphenylacetylene. Light from the “Dark State” J. Phys. Chem. A 2012, 116, 10548–10558.
    Saltiel, J. “The A and B of Cis-Trans Photoisomerization” Eur. Photochem. Assoc. Newsletter 2012, 82, 14-20 (invited contribution).
    Saltiel, J.; Hutchinson, S. R.; Chitwood, K.; Dmitrenko, O. “Photoisomerization of cis-1-(3-Methyl-2-naphthyl)-2-phenylethene in Glassy Methylcyclohexane at 77 K” J. Phys. Chem. A 2012, 116, 5293-5298
    Turek, A. M.; Saltiel, J.; Krishna, T. R. S.; Krishnamoorthy, G. “Resolution of Conformer Specific All-trans-1,6-diphenyl-1,3,5-hexatriene UV Absorption Spectra” J. Phys. Chem. A 2012, 116, 5353-5367.
    Fedorova, O. A.; Fedorov, Yu. V.; Labazava, I. E.; Gulakova, E. N.; Saltiel, J. “Complexes of amino acids with a crown-ether derivative of 4-styrylpyridine. Monotopic or ditopic?” Photochem. Photobiol. Sci. 2011, 10, 1954-1962, DOI: 10.1039/C1PP05007A
    Saltiel, J (Saltiel, Jack); Krishna, TRS (Krishna, Talapragada R. S.); Laohhasurayotin, K (Laohhasurayotin, Kritapas); Ren, YJ (Ren, Yanjun); Phipps, K (Phipps, Kathleen); Davis, PH (Davis, Paul H.); Yee, WA (Yee, W. Atom) Medium Effects on the Direct Cis-Trans Photoisomerization of 1,4-Diphenyl-1,3-butadiene in Solution. JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY A 2011, Volume: 115 Issue: 11, 2120-2129
    Saltiel, J (Saltiel, Jack); Klima, R (Klima, Rodney); van de Burgt, LJ (van de Burgt, L. J.); Wang, SJ (Wang, Shujun); Dmitrenko, O (Dmitrenko, Olga) Temperature Dependence of the 1,6-Diphenyl-1,3,5-hexatriene Triplet Lifetime in Solution and Theoretical Evaluation of Triplet Conformer Interconversion. JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY B 2010, Volume: 114 Issue: 45, 14480-14486
    Saltiel, J (Saltiel, Jack); Papadimitriou, D (Papadimitriou, Dimitrios); Krishna, TSR (Krishna, Tallapragada S. R.); Huang, ZN (Huang, Zhen-Nian); Krishnamoorthy, G (Krishnamoorthy, Govindarahan); Laohhasurayotin, S (Laohhasurayotin, Somchoke); Clark, RJ (Clark, Ronald J.) Photoisomerization of All-cis-1,6-diphenyl-1,3,5-hexatriene in the Solid State and in Solution: A Simultaneous Three-Bond Twist Process. ANGEWANDTE CHEMIE-INTERNATIONAL EDITION 2009, Volume: 48 Issue: 43, 8082-8085
    Saltiel, J (Saltiel, Jack); Krishna, TSR (Krishna, Tallapragada S. R.); Laohhasurayotin, S (Laohhasurayotin, Somchoke); Fort, K (Fort, Katy); Clark, RJ (Clark, Ronald J.) Photoisomerization of cis,cis- to trans,trans-1,4-diaryl-1,3-butadienes in the solid state: The bicycle-pedal mechanism. JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY A 2008, Volume: 112 Issue: 2, 199-209
    Saltiel, J (Saltiel, Jack); Bremer, MA (Bremer, Michael A.); Laohhasurayotin, S (Laohhasurayotin, Somchoke); Krishna, TSR (Krishna, Tallapragada S. R.) Photoisomerization of cis,cis- and cis,trans-1,4-di-o-tolyl-1,3-butadiene in glassy media at 77 K: One-bond-twist and bicycle-pedal mechanisms. ANGEWANDTE CHEMIE-INTERNATIONAL EDITION 2008, Volume: 47 Issue: 7, 1237-1240