We are a new research group in the Chemistry Department at UC Berkeley and the Chemical Sciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that uses transient spectroscopy to study the workings of artificial photosynthetic systems. Artificial photosynthesis—creating renewable fuels from sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide in the laboratory—has the potential to transform the way our energy needs are met today. It also raises some of the most fundamental questions in chemistry and materials science. What are the intermediate states of photo-driven chemical reactions? How do we apply advanced spectroscopic tools to pinpoint the steps in a mechanistic pathway for fuel generation? We investigate the machinery of transition metal based light absorbers and catalysts in sunlight to fuel systems with three complimentary spectroscopic tools that access the transient, photo-excited states: 1) transient optical spectroscopy 2) valence band photoemission and 3) transient x-ray spectroscopy.