Dual Singlet Excited-State Quenching Mechanisms in an Artificial Caroteno-Phthalocyanine Light Harvesting Antenna

Janneke Ravensbergen, Smitha Pillai, Dalvin D. Méndez-Hernández, Raoul N. Frese, Rienk van Grondelle, Devens Gust, Thomas A. Moore, Ana L. Moore, John T.M. Kennis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Under excess illumination, photosystem II of plants dissipates excess energy through the quenching of chlorophyll fluorescence in the light harvesting antenna. Various models involving chlorophyll quenching by carotenoids have been proposed, including (i) direct energy transfer from chlorophyll to the low-lying optically forbidden carotenoid S1 state, (ii) formation of a collective quenched chlorophyll-carotenoid S1 excitonic state, (iii) chlorophyll-carotenoid charge separation and recombination, and (iv) chlorophyll-chlorophyll charge separation and recombination. In previous work, the first three processes were mimicked in model systems: in a Zn-phthalocyanine-carotenoid dyad with an amide linker, direct energy transfer was observed by femtosecond transient absorption spectroscopy, whereas in a Zn-phthalocyanine-carotenoid dyad with an amine linker excitonic quenching was demonstrated. Here, we present a transient absorption spectroscopic study on a Zn-phthalocyanine-carotenoid dyad with a phenylene linker. We observe that two quenching phases of the phthalocyanine excited state exist at 77 and 213 ps in addition to an unquenched phase at 2.7 ns. Within our instrument response of ∼100 fs, carotenoid S1 features rise which point at an excitonic quenching mechanism. Strikingly, we observe an additional rise of carotenoid S1 features at 3.6 ps, which shows that a direct energy transfer mechanism in an inverted kinetics regime is also in effect. We assign the 77 ps decay component to excitonic quenching and the 3.6 ps/213 ps rise and decay components to direct energy transfer. Our results indicate that dual quenching mechanisms may be active in the same molecular system, in addition to an unquenched fraction. Computational chemistry results indicate the presence of multiple conformers where one of the dihedral angles of the phenylene linker assumes distinct values. We propose that the parallel quenching pathways and the unquenched fraction result from such conformational subpopulations. Our results suggest that it is possible to switch between different regimes of quenching and nonquenching through a conformational change on the same molecule, offering insights into potential mechanisms used in biological photosynthesis to adapt to light intensity changes on fast time scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-67
Number of pages9
JournalACS Physical Chemistry Au
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 26 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • artificial light harvesting dyad
  • carotenoid
  • energy transfer
  • excess energy dissipation
  • excitonic coupling
  • nonphotochemical quenching
  • optically forbidden state
  • photosynthetic light harvesting
  • phthalocyanine
  • ultrafast spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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