Atomistic study of the long-lived quantum coherences in the Fenna-Matthews-Olson complex

Sangwoo Shim, Patrick Rebentrost, Stéphanie Valleau, Alán Aspuru-Guzik
Biophysical Journal 2012 February 8, 102 (3): 649-60
A remarkable amount of theoretical research has been carried out to elucidate the physical origins of the recently observed long-lived quantum coherence in the electronic energy transfer process in biological photosynthetic systems. Although successful in many respects, several widely used descriptions only include an effective treatment of the protein-chromophore interactions. In this work, by combining an all-atom molecular dynamics simulation, time-dependent density functional theory, and open quantum system approaches, we successfully simulate the dynamics of the electronic energy transfer of the Fenna-Matthews-Olson pigment-protein complex. The resulting characteristic beating of populations and quantum coherences is in good agreement with the experimental results and the hierarchy equation of motion approach. The experimental absorption, linear, and circular dichroism spectra and dephasing rates are recovered at two different temperatures. In addition, we provide an extension of our method to include zero-point fluctuations of the vibrational environment. This work thus presents, to our knowledge, one of the first steps to explain the role of excitonic quantum coherence in photosynthetic light-harvesting complexes based on their atomistic and molecular description.

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