JOURNAL ARTICLE

Influence of environment induced correlated fluctuations in electronic coupling on coherent excitation energy transfer dynamics in model photosynthetic systems

Pengfei Huo, David F Coker
Journal of Chemical Physics 2012 March 21, 136 (11): 115102
22443796
Two-dimensional photon-echo experiments indicate that excitation energy transfer between chromophores near the reaction center of the photosynthetic purple bacterium Rhodobacter sphaeroides occurs coherently with decoherence times of hundreds of femtoseconds, comparable to the energy transfer time scale in these systems. The original explanation of this observation suggested that correlated fluctuations in chromophore excitation energies, driven by large scale protein motions could result in long lived coherent energy transfer dynamics. However, no significant site energy correlation has been found in recent molecular dynamics simulations of several model light harvesting systems. Instead, there is evidence of correlated fluctuations in site energy-electronic coupling and electronic coupling-electronic coupling. The roles of these different types of correlations in excitation energy transfer dynamics are not yet thoroughly understood, though the effects of site energy correlations have been well studied. In this paper, we introduce several general models that can realistically describe the effects of various types of correlated fluctuations in chromophore properties and systematically study the behavior of these models using general methods for treating dissipative quantum dynamics in complex multi-chromophore systems. The effects of correlation between site energy and inter-site electronic couplings are explored in a two state model of excitation energy transfer between the accessory bacteriochlorophyll and bacteriopheophytin in a reaction center system and we find that these types of correlated fluctuations can enhance or suppress coherence and transfer rate simultaneously. In contrast, models for correlated fluctuations in chromophore excitation energies show enhanced coherent dynamics but necessarily show decrease in excitation energy transfer rate accompanying such coherence enhancement. Finally, for a three state model of the Fenna-Matthews-Olsen light harvesting complex, we explore the influence of including correlations in inter-chromophore couplings between different chromophore dimers that share a common chromophore. We find that the relative sign of the different correlations can have profound influence on decoherence time and energy transfer rate and can provide sensitive control of relaxation in these complex quantum dynamical open systems.

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