Mimicking the electron transfer chain in photosystem II with a molecular triad thermodynamically capable of water oxidation

Jackson D. Megiatto, Antaeres Antoniuk-Pablant, Benjamin D. Sherman, Gerdenis Kodis, Miguel Gervaldo, Thomas Moore, Ana Moore, Devens Gust

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107 Scopus citations


In the photosynthetic photosystem II, electrons are transferred from the manganese-containing oxygen evolving complex (OEC) to the oxidized primary electron-donor chlorophyll P680•+ by a proton-coupled electron transfer process involving a tyrosine-histidine pair. Proton transfer from the tyrosine phenolic group to a histidine nitrogen positions the redox potential of the tyrosine between those of P680•+ and the OEC. We report the synthesis and time-resolved spectroscopic study of a molecular triad that models this electron transfer. The triad consists of a high-potential porphyrin bearing two pentafluorophenyl groups (PF10), a tetracyanoporphyrin electron acceptor (TCNP), and a benzimidazole-phenol secondary electron-donor (Bi-PhOH). Excitation of PF10 in benzonitrile is followed by singlet energy transfer to TCNP (τ = 41 ps), whose excited state decays by photoinduced electron transfer (τ = 830 ps) to yield Bi-PhOH-PF 10•+-TCNP•-. A second electron transfer reaction follows (τ < 12 ps), giving a final state postulated as BiH+-PhO-PF10-TCNP•-, in which the phenolic proton now resides on benzimidazole. This final state decays with a time constant of 3.8 μs. The triad thus functionally mimics the electron transfers involving the tyrosine-histidine pair in PSII. The final charge-separated state is thermodynamically capable of water oxidation, and its long lifetime suggests the possibility of coupling systems such as this system to water oxidation catalysts for use in artificial photosynthetic fuel production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15578-15583
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number39
StatePublished - Sep 25 2012


  • Biomimicry
  • Photochemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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