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Photobiology is the study of the effects of ultraviolet, visible and infrared radiation on living organisms. It includes topics such as photosynthesis, vision, bioluminescence, circadian rhythms and photodynamic therapy.
Light-controlled gating of ion transport across membranes occurs in nature via channelrhodopsin nanochannels. Here, the authors show facile non-covalent approach towards light-responsive biomimetic nanochannels using host–guest interactions between a negative pillararene host and a positive azobenzene guest.
Synthetic heterodimers provide a platform to demonstrate molecular design principles of vibronic coupling. Now, it has been shown that quantum beating caused by vibronic coupling can be controlled by packing a structurally flexible heterodimer on single-walled carbon nanotubes. This quantum beating requires a vibration to be resonant with the energy gap between excited states and structural rigidity.
Photoreceptors play an essential role in determining the fate of subsequent biological reactions, however, tracking their structural evolution on ultrafast timescales has been challenging. Now, photoactive yellow protein has been studied using time-domain Raman spectroscopy with sub-7-femtosecond pulses, revealing the ultrafast rearrangement of its hydrogen-bonding structure and also the structure of the first photocycle intermediate.
The flow of energy in Earth's primary light harvesters — photosynthetic pigment–protein complexes — needs to be heavily regulated, as the sun's energy supply can vary over many orders of magnitude. Observing hundreds of individual light-harvesting complexes has now provided important insights into the machinery that regulates this process.
The process of electronic energy transfer between molecules has long fascinated chemists. Femtosecond spectroscopy measurements of a series of molecular dimers now reveal signals that arise from non-Born–Oppenheimer coupling, suggesting a new mechanism to enhance energy transfer.
Vision is initiated by photoisomerization of 11-cis retinal in the visual pigment rhodopsin — a fast and efficient process. Spectroscopic studies now demonstrate that the transition from the reactant photoexcited-state to the ground-state photoproduct, which mediates this important reaction, occurs on a sub-50-fs timescale and is vibrationally coherent.
Biological solar energy conversion requires the coordinated and rapid movement of protons and electrons through complex proteins, called reaction centres. Now, an artificial and structurally simple reaction centre has been synthesized that mimics an important, photosynthetic charge relay.