Unraveling the Electronic Structure of Individual Photosynthetic Pigment-Protein Complexes

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Science  16 Jul 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5426, pp. 400-402
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5426.400

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Low-temperature single-molecule spectroscopic techniques were applied to a light-harvesting pigment-protein complex (LH2) from purple photosynthetic bacteria. The properties of the electronically excited states of the two circular assemblies (B800 and B850) of bacteriochlorophyll a (BChl a) pigment molecules in the individual complexes were revealed, without ensemble averaging. The results show that the excited states of the B800 ring of pigments are mainly localized on individual BChl a molecules. In contrast, the absorption of a photon by the B850 ring can be consistently described in terms of an excitation that is completely delocalized over the ring. This property may contribute to the high efficiency of energy transfer in these photosynthetic complexes.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: antoine{at}

  • Present address: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Sektion Physik und Center for NanoScience, Lehrstuhl für Photonik und Optoelektronik, Amalienstrasse 54, 80799 München, Germany.

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