Chromophores of chromophores: a bottom-up Hückel picture of the excited states of photoactive proteins†
Many photoactive proteins contain chromophores based on para-substituted phenolate anions which are an essential component of their electronic structure. Here, we present a reductionist approach to gain fundamental insight into the evolution of electronic structure as the chromophore increases in complexity from phenolate to that in GFP. Using frequency- and angle-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy, in combination with electronic structure theory, the onset of excited states that are responsible for the characteristic spectroscopic features in biochromophores are determined. A comprehensive, yet intuitive picture of the effect of phenolate functionalisation is developed based on simple Hückel theory. Specifically, the first two bright excited states can be constructed from a linear combination of molecular orbitals localised on the phenolate and para-substituent groups. This essential interaction is first observed for p-vinyl-phenolate. This bottom-up approach offers a readily accessible framework for the design of photoactive chromophores.
- This article is part of the themed collection: 2017 PCCP HOT Articles