Seawater has been irradiated using a train of flashes from a laser source. This wavelength is on resonance with the blue absorption peak of Chlorophyll pigment associated with the photosystem of in vitro phytoplankton. The resulting fluorescence at is instantaneously recorded during each laser pulse using a streak camera. Delayed fluorescence is observed, yielding clues about initiation of the photosynthetic process on a nanosecond time scale. Further data processing allows for determination of the functional absorption cross section, found to be , which is the first reporting of this number for in vitro phytoplankton. Unlike other flash-pump studies of Chlorophyll, using a LED or flashlamp-based sources, the short laser pulse used here does not reveal any pulse-to-pulse hysteresis (i.e., variable fluorescence), indicating that the laser pulses used here are not able to drive the photosynthetic process to completion. This is attributed to competition from a back reaction between the photoexcited photosystem II and the intermediate electron acceptor. The significance of this work as a new type of deployable ocean fluorimeter is discussed, and it is believed the apparatus will have applications in thin-layer phytoplankton research.
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