Ultrafast transient absorption spectroscopy: principles and application to photosynthetic systems.
ABSTRACT: The photophysical and photochemical reactions, after light absorption by a photosynthetic pigment-protein complex, are among the fastest events in biology, taking place on timescales ranging from tens of femtoseconds to a few nanoseconds. The advent of ultrafast laser systems that produce pulses with femtosecond duration opened up a new area of research and enabled investigation of these photophysical and photochemical reactions in real time. Here, we provide a basic description of the ultrafast transient absorption technique, the laser and wavelength-conversion equipment, the transient absorption setup, and the collection of transient absorption data. Recent applications of ultrafast transient absorption spectroscopy on systems with increasing degree of complexity, from biomimetic light-harvesting systems to natural light-harvesting antennas, are presented. In particular, we will discuss, in this educational review, how a molecular understanding of the light-harvesting and photoprotective functions of carotenoids in photosynthesis is accomplished through the application of ultrafast transient absorption spectroscopy.
Project description:Bacteriorhodopsin (bR) is a light-driven proton pump. The primary photochemical event upon light absorption is isomerization of the retinal chromophore. Here we used time-resolved crystallography at an X-ray free-electron laser to follow the structural changes in multiphoton-excited bR from 250 femtoseconds to 10 picoseconds. Quantum chemistry and ultrafast spectroscopy were used to identify a sequential two-photon absorption process, leading to excitation of a tryptophan residue flanking the retinal chromophore, as a first manifestation of multiphoton effects. We resolve distinct stages in the structural dynamics of the all-trans retinal in photoexcited bR to a highly twisted 13-cis conformation. Other active site sub-picosecond rearrangements include correlated vibrational motions of the electronically excited retinal chromophore, the surrounding amino acids and water molecules as well as their hydrogen bonding network. These results show that this extended photo-active network forms an electronically and vibrationally coupled system in bR, and most likely in all retinal proteins.
Project description:Non-noble metal plasmonic materials, e.g. doped semiconductor nanocrystals, compared to their noble metal counterparts, have shown unique advantages, including broadly tunable plasmon frequency (from visible to infrared) and rich surface chemistry. However, the fate and harvesting of hot electrons from these non-noble metal plasmons have been much less explored. Here we report plasmon driven hot electron generation and transfer from plasmonic metal oxide nanocrystals to surface adsorbed molecules by ultrafast transient absorption spectroscopy. We show unambiguously that under infrared light excitation, hot electron transfers in ultrafast timescale (<50?fs) with an efficiency of 1.4%. The excitation wavelength and fluence dependent study indicates that hot electron transfers right after Landau damping before electron thermalization. We revealed the efficiency-limiting factors and provided improvement strategies. This study paves the way for designing efficient infrared light absorption and photochemical conversion applications based on non-noble metal plasmonic materials.
Project description:The peripheral light-harvesting antenna complex (LH2) of purple photosynthetic bacteria is an ideal testing ground for models of structure-function relationships due to its well-determined molecular structure and ultrafast energy deactivation. It has been the target for numerous studies in both theory and ultrafast spectroscopy; nevertheless, certain aspects of the convoluted relaxation network of LH2 lack a satisfactory explanation by conventional theories. For example, the initial carotenoid-to-bacteriochlorophyll energy transfer step necessary on visible light excitation was long considered to follow the Förster mechanism, even though transfer times as short as 40 femtoseconds (fs) have been observed. Such transfer times are hard to accommodate by Förster theory, as the moderate coupling strengths found in LH2 suggest much slower transfer within this framework. In this study, we investigate LH2 from Phaeospirillum (Ph.) molischianum in two types of transient absorption experiments-with narrowband pump and white-light probe resulting in 100 fs time resolution, and with degenerate broadband 10 fs pump and probe pulses. With regard to the split Qx band in this system, we show that vibronically mediated transfer explains both the ultrafast carotenoid-to-B850 transfer, and the almost complete lack of transfer to B800. These results are beyond Förster theory, which predicts an almost equal partition between the two channels.
Project description:Coherent two-dimensional (2D) optical spectroscopy has revolutionized our ability to probe many types of couplings and ultrafast dynamics in complex quantum systems. The dynamics and function of any quantum system strongly depend on couplings to the environment. Thus, studying coherent interactions for different environments remains a topic of tremendous interest. Here we introduce coherent 2D electronic mass spectrometry that allows 2D measurements on effusive molecular beams and thus on quantum systems with minimum system-bath interaction and employ this to identify the major ionization pathway of 3d Rydberg states in NO2. Furthermore, we present 2D spectra of multiphoton ionization, disclosing distinct differences in the nonlinear response functions leading to the ionization products. We also realize the equivalent of spectrally resolved transient-absorption measurements without the necessity for acquiring weak absorption changes. Using time-of-flight detection introduces cations as an observable, enabling the 2D spectroscopic study on isolated systems of photophysical and photochemical reactions.
Project description:The photochemistry of fac-[Re(bpy)(CO)(3)Cl] (1 a; bpy=2,2'-bipyridine) initiated by irradiation using <330 nm light has been investigated. Isomerization proceeded in THF to give the corresponding mer-isomer 1 b. However, in the presence of a small amount of MeCN, the main product was the CO-ligand-substituted complex (OC-6-24)-[Re(bpy)(CO)(2) Cl(MeCN)] (2 c; bpy=2,2'-bipyridine). In MeCN, two isomers, 2 c and its (OC-6-34) form (2 a), were produced. Only 2 c thermally isomerized to produce the (OC-6-44) form 2 b. A detailed investigation led to the conclusion that both 1 b and 2 c are produced by a dissociative mechanism, whereas 2 a forms by an associative mechanism. A comparison of the ultrafast transient UV-visible absorption, emission, and IR spectra of 1 a acquired by excitation using higher-energy light (e.g., 270 nm) and lower-energy light (e.g., 400 nm) gave detailed information about the excited states, intermediates, and kinetics of the photochemical reactions and photophysical processes of 1 a. Irradiation of 1 a using the higher-energy light resulted in the generation of the higher singlet excited state with ??25?fs, from which intersystem crossing proceeded to give the higher triplet state ((3)HES(1)). In THF, (3)HES(1) was competitively converted to both the triplet ligand field ((3)LF) and metal-to-ligand charge transfer ((3)MLCT) with lifetimes of 200 fs, in which the former is a reactive state that converts to [Re(bpy)(CO)(2)Cl(thf)](+) (1 c) within 10 ps by means of a dissociative mechanism. Re-coordination of CO to 1 c gives both 1 a and 1 b. In MeCN, irradiation of 1 a by using high-energy light gives the coordinatively unsaturated complex, which rapidly converted to 2 c. A seven-coordinate complex is also produced within several hundred femtoseconds, which is converted to 2 a within several hundred picoseconds.
Project description:Porphyrin-based photosynthetic reaction centre (PRC) mimics, ZnPQ-Q2HP-C60 and MP2Q-Q2HP-C60 (M = Zn or 2H), designed to have a similar special-pair electron donor and similar charge-separation distances, redox processes and photochemical reaction rates to those in the natural PRC from purple bacteria, have been synthesised and extensive photochemical studies performed. Mechanisms of electron-transfer reactions are fully investigated using femtosecond and nanosecond transient absorption spectroscopy. In benzonitrile, all models show picosecond-timescale charge-separations and the final singlet charge-separations with the microsecond-timescale. The established lifetimes are long compared to other processes in organic solar cells or other organic light harvesting systems. These rigid, synthetically flexible molecules provide the closest mimics to the natural PRC so far synthesised and present a future direction for the design of light harvesters with controllable absorption, redox, and kinetics properties.
Project description:Photocatalytic water splitting is a natural but challenging chemical way of harnessing renewable solar power to generate clean hydrogen energy. Here we report a potential hydrogen-evolving photochemical molecular device based on a self-assembled ruthenium-palladium heterometallic coordination cage, incorporating multiple photo- and catalytic metal centres. The photophysical properties are investigated by absorption/emission spectroscopy, electrochemical measurements and preliminary DFT calculations and the stepwise electron transfer processes from ruthenium-photocentres to catalytic palladium-centres is probed by ultrafast transient absorption spectroscopy. The photocatalytic hydrogen production assessments reveal an initial reaction rate of 380??mol?h(-1) and a turnover number of 635 after 48?h. The efficient hydrogen production may derive from the directional electron transfers through multiple channels owing to proper organization of the photo- and catalytic multi-units within the octahedral cage, which may open a new door to design photochemical molecular devices with well-organized metallosupramolecules for homogenous photocatalytic applications.
Project description:Coherent multidimensional electronic spectroscopy is commonly used to investigate photophysical phenomena such as light harvesting in photosynthesis in which the system returns back to its ground state after energy transfer. By contrast, we introduce multidimensional spectroscopy to study ultrafast photochemical processes in which the investigated molecule changes permanently. Exemplarily, the emergence in 2D and 3D spectra of a cross-peak between reactant and product reveals the cis-trans photoisomerization of merocyanine isomers. These compounds have applications in organic photovoltaics and optical data storage. Cross-peak oscillations originate from a vibrational wave packet in the electronically excited state of the photoproduct. This concept isolates the isomerization dynamics along different vibrational coordinates assigned by quantum-chemical calculations, and is applicable to determine chemical dynamics in complex photoreactive networks.
Project description:We demonstrated ultrafast femtosecond nonlinear optical (NLO) absorption characteristics of bilayered fullerosome vesicle nanostructures derived from molecular self-assembly of amphiphilic oligo(ethylene glycolated) C(60)-(light-harvesting diphenylaminofluorene antenna). Fullerene conjugates were designed to enhance photoresponse in a femtosecond time scale by applying an isomerizable periconjugation linker between the C(60) cage and diphenylaminofluorene antenna subunit in an intramolecular contact distance of only < 3.0 Å. Morphology of C(60)(>DPAF-EG(12)C(1))-based fullerosome nanovesicles in H(2)O was characterized to consist of a bilayered shell with a sphere diameter of 20-70 nm and a chromophore shell-width of 9.0-10 nm, fitting well with a head-to-head packing configuration of the molecular length. At the estimated effective nanovesicle concentration as low as 5.5 × 10(-8) MV (molecular molar concentration of 5.0 × 10(-4) M) in H(2)O, two-photon absorption (2PA) phenomena were found to be the dominating photophysical events showing a large molar concentration-insensitive 2PA cross-section value equivalent to 8500 GM in a form of nanovesicles, on average. The observed NLO characteristics led to a sharp trend of efficient light-transmittance intensity reduction at the input laser intensity above 100 GW/cm(2).
Project description:Considerable debate surrounds the question of whether or not quantum mechanics plays a significant, non-trivial role in photosynthetic light harvesting. Many have proposed that quantum superpositions and/or quantum transport phenomena may be responsible for the efficiency and robustness of energy transport present in biological systems. The critical experimental observations comprise the observation of coherent oscillations or "quantum beats" via femtosecond laser spectroscopy, which have been observed in many different light harvesting systems. Part Two of this review aims to provide an overview of experimental observations of energy transfer in the most studied light harvesting systems. Length scales, derived from crystallographic studies, are combined with energy and time scales of the beats observed via spectroscopy. A consensus is emerging that most long-lived (hundreds of femtoseconds) coherent phenomena are of vibrational or vibronic origin, where the latter may result in coherent excitation transport within a protein complex. In contrast, energy transport between proteins is likely to be incoherent in nature. The question of whether evolution has selected for these non-trivial quantum phenomena may be an unanswerable question, as dense packings of chromophores will lead to strong coupling and hence non-trivial quantum phenomena. As such, one cannot discern whether evolution has optimised light harvesting systems for high chromophore density or for the ensuing quantum effects as these are inextricably linked and cannot be switched off.