Coherence preservation and electron-phonon interaction in electron transfer in DNA

Mayra Peralta, Steven Feijoo, Solmar Varela, Vladimiro Mujica, Ernesto Medina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


We analyze the influence of electron-phonon (e-ph) interaction in a model for electron transfer (ET) processes in DNA in terms of the envelope function approach for spinless electrons. We are specifically concerned with the effect of e-ph interaction on the coherence of the ET process and how to model the interaction of DNA with phonon reservoirs of biological relevance. We assume that the electron bearing orbitals are half filled and derive the physics of e-ph coupling in the vicinity in reciprocal space. We find that at half filling, the acoustical modes are decoupled to ET at first order, while optical modes are predominant. The latter are associated with inter-strand vibrational modes in consistency with previous studies involving polaron models of ET. Coupling to acoustic modes depends on electron doping of DNA, while optical modes are always coupled within our model. Our results yield e-ph coupling consistent with estimates in the literature, and we conclude that large polarons are the main result of such e-ph interactions. This scenario will have strong consequences on decoherence of ET under physiological conditions due to relative isolation from thermal equilibration of the ET mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number165102
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number16
StatePublished - Oct 28 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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