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Biological and bio-inspired systems for efficient light harvesting

Photosynthesis has been the dominant energy conversion and storage process on Earth for at least three billion years. It has been fine-tuned by evolution so that photosynthetic organisms are ubiquitous in nearly every known habitat that supports life and form the basis of essentially all food chains. We are studying the mechanisms of light-energy capture, transfer, and storage in biological and bio-inspired (artificial) photosynthetic systems. We first model the structure and function of the biological pigment-protein assemblies using molecular dynamics simulations and macromolecular docking. We then calculate excited state energies and use them to predict rates and efficiencies of excitation energy transfer within and between these systems.

This work is performed under the auspices of the Photosynthetic Antenna Research Center, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the US Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences.

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