Dichotomous disorder model for single light-harvesting complexes

  • D. Rutkauskas
Keywords: photosynthetic, light-harvesting, antenna, energetic disorder, single-molecule


Photosynthetic organisms conserve the captured energy of solar radiation into stable chemical forms. To do so, they have evolved specialized systems of pigment–protein complexes consisting of light-harvesting antennas and reaction centres. Photosynthetic antennas contain remarkably dense arrangements of light-absorbing pigments held by the protein scaffold, and their function is to absorb light and funnel the excitation energy to the reaction centre. Decades of experimental and theoretical research resulted in a detailed understanding of the energy migration pathways within the photosynthetic apparatus. The key parameters determining the excitation relaxation and transfer are inter-pigment coupling and energetic disorder or non-equality of excitation energies at equivalent pigment sites due to the interaction with the disordered protein scaffold. Circularly symmetric light-harvesting antennas from purple bacteria present a beautiful example of the interplay between these parameters. The spectral signature of this interplay could be observed with the single-molecule fluorescence microscopy techniques. The results of these measurements were interpreted with an intuitively clear dichotomous model of disorder of pigment site energies.
Dedication to Professor Leonas Valkūnas