Photosynthetic light harvesting: excitons and coherence.
Photosynthetic light-harvesting antennae direct energy collected from sunlight to reaction centers with remarkable efficiency and rapidity. Despite their common function, the pigment-protein complexes that make up antenna systems in different types of photosynthetic organisms exhibit a wide variety of structural forms. Some individual organisms express different types of complexes depending on growth conditions. For example, purple photosynthetic bacteria Rp. palustris preferentially synthesize light-harvesting complex 4 (LH4), a structural variant of the more common and widely studied LH2, when grown under low-light conditions. Here, we investigate the ultrafast dynamics and energy level structure of LH4 using two-dimensional (2D) electronic spectroscopy in combination with theoretical simulations. The experimental data reveal dynamics on two distinct time scales, consistent with coherent dephasing within approximately the first 100 fs, followed by relaxation of population into lower-energy states on a picosecond time scale. We observe excited state absorption (ESA) features marking the existence of high-energy dark states, which suggest that the strongest dipole-dipole coupling in the complex occurs between bacteriochlorophyll transition dipole moments in an in-line geometry. The results help to refine the current understanding of the pigment organization in the LH4 complex, for which a high-resolution crystal structure is not yet available.