Electronic coherence and the kinetics of inter-complex energy transfer in light-harvesting systems
We apply real-time path-integral dynamics simulations to characterize the role of electronic coherence in inter-complex excitation energy transfer (EET) processes. The analysis is performed using a system-bath model that exhibits the essential features of light-harvesting networks, including strong intra-complex electronic coupling and weak inter-complex coupling. Strong intra-complex coupling is known to generate both static and dynamic electron coherences, which delocalize the exciton over multiple chromophores and potentially influence the inter-complex EET dynamics. With numerical results from partial linearized density matrix (PLDM) real-time path-integral calculations, it is found that both static and dynamic coherence are correlated with the rate of inter-complex EET. To distinguish the impact of these two types of intra-complex coherence on the rate of inter-complex EET, we use Multi-Chromophore Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (MC-FRET) theory to map the original parameterization of the system-bath model to an alternative parameterization for which the effects of static coherence are preserved while the effects of dynamic coherence are largely eliminated. It is then shown that both parameterizations of the model (i.e., the original that supports dynamic coherence and the alternative that eliminates it), exhibit nearly identical EET kinetics and population dynamics over a wide range of parameters. These observations are found to hold for cases in which either the EET donor or acceptor is a dimeric complex and for cases in which the dimeric complex is either symmetric or asymmetric. The results from this study suggest that dynamic coherence plays only a minor role in the actual kinetics of inter-complex EET, whereas static coherence largely governs the kinetics of incoherent inter-complex EET in light-harvesting networks.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Measurement and prediction of quantum coherence effects in biological processes