Utilizing the dynamic stark shift as a probe for dielectric relaxation in photosynthetic reaction centers during charge separation

Zhi Guo, Su Lin, Neal Woodbury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


In photosynthetic reaction centers, the electric field generated by light-induced charge separation produces electrochromic shifts in the transitions of reaction center pigments. The extent of this Stark shift indirectly reflects the effective field strength at a particular cofactor in the complex. The dynamics of the effective field strength near the two monomeric bacteriochlorophylls (BA and BB) in purple photosynthetic bacterial reaction centers has been explored near physiological temperature by monitoring the time-dependent Stark shift during charge separation (dynamic Stark shift). This dynamic Stark shift was determined through analysis of femtosecond time-resolved absorbance change spectra recorded in wild type reaction centers and in four mutants at position M210. In both wild type and the mutants, the kinetics of the dynamic Stark shift differ from those of electron transfer, though not in the same way. In wild type, the initial electron transfer and the increase in the effective field strength near the active-side monomer bacteriochlorophyll (BA) occur in synchrony, but the two signals diverge on the time scale of electron transfer to the quinone. In contrast, when tyrosine is replaced by aspartic acid at M210, the kinetics of the BA Stark shift and the initial electron transfer differ, but transfer to the quinone coincides with the decay of the Stark shift. This is interpreted in terms of differences in the dynamics of the local dielectric environment between the mutants and the wild type. In wild type, comparison of the Stark shifts associated with BA and BB on the two quasi-symmetric halves of the reaction center structure confirm that the effective dielectric constants near these cofactors are quite different when the reaction center is in the state P+QA-, as previously determined by Steffen et al. at 1.5 K (Steffen, M. A.; et al. Science 1994, 264, 810-816). However, it is not possible to determine from static, low-temperature measurments if the difference in the effective dielectric constant between the two sides of the reaction center is manifest on the time scale of initial electron transfer. By comparing directly the Stark shift dynamics of the ground-state spectra of the two monomer bacteriochlorophylls, it is evident that there is, in fact, a large dielectric difference between protein environments of the two quasi-symmetric electron-transfer branches on the time scale of initial electron transfer and that the effective dielectric constant in the region continues to evolve on a time scale of hundreds of picoseconds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11383-11390
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number38
StatePublished - Sep 26 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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