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Volume 155, 2012
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Design principles of photosynthetic light-harvesting

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Abstract

Photosynthetic organisms are capable of harvesting solar energy with near unity quantum efficiency. Even more impressively, this efficiency can be regulated in response to the demands of photosynthetic reactions and the fluctuating light-levels of natural environments. We discuss the distinctive design principles through which photosynthetic light-harvesting functions. These emergent properties of photosynthesis appear both within individual pigment–protein complexes and in how these complexes integrate to produce a functional, regulated apparatus that drives downstream photochemistry. One important property is how the strong interactions and resultant quantum coherence, produced by the dense packing of photosynthetic pigments, provide a tool to optimize for ultrafast, directed energy transfer. We also describe how excess energy is quenched to prevent photodamage under high-light conditions, which we investigate through theory and experiment. We conclude with comments on the potential of using these features to improve solar energy devices.

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Publication details

The article was received on 22 Apr 2011, accepted on 15 Jun 2011 and first published on 06 Jul 2011


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C1FD00078K
Citation: Faraday Discuss., 2012,155, 27-41
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    Design principles of photosynthetic light-harvesting

    G. R. Fleming, G. S. Schlau-Cohen, K. Amarnath and J. Zaks, Faraday Discuss., 2012, 155, 27
    DOI: 10.1039/C1FD00078K

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