Despite extensive study, mysteries remain regarding the highly efficient ultrafast charge separation processes in photosynthetic reaction centers (RCs). In this work, transient Stark signals were found to be present in ultrafast two-dimensional electronic spectra recorded for purple bacterial RCs at 77 K. These arose from the electric field that is inherent to the intradimer charge-transfer intermediate of the bacteriochlorophyll pair (P), PA+PB–. By comparing three mutated RCs, a correlation was found between the efficient formation of PA+PB– and a fast charge separation rate. Importantly, the energy level of P* was changed due to the Stark shift, influencing the driving force for P* → P+BA– electron transfer and hence its rate. Furthermore, the orientation and amplitude of the inherent electric field varied in different ways upon different mutation, leading to contrasting changes in the rates. This mechanism of modulation provides a solution to a long-lasting inconsistency between experimental observations and activation energy theory.
Dynamic Stark Effect in Two-Dimensional Spectroscopy Revealing Modulation of Ultrafast Charge Separation in Bacterial Reaction Centers by an Inherent Electric Field
J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 2021, 12 (23), 5526–5533, DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpclett.1c01059.