Lycopene crystalloids exhibit singlet exciton fission in tomatoes†
Transient absorption studies conducted on in vitro lycopene aggregates, as well as on lycopene crystalloids inside tomato chromoplasts, reveal the appearance of a long-lived excited state, which we unambiguously identified as lycopene triplet. These triplet states must be generated by singlet exciton fission, which occurs from the lycopene 2Ag state. This is the first time the singlet fission process has ever been shown to occur in a biological material. We propose that the formation of carotenoid assemblies in chromoplasts may constitute a photoprotective process during chromoplast maturation, in addition to their function in signaling processes.