Coherence in energy transfer and photosynthesis

Annu Rev Phys Chem. 2015 Apr;66:69-96. doi: 10.1146/annurev-physchem-040214-121713. Epub 2014 Dec 1.


Ultrafast energy transfer is used to transmit electronic excitation among the many molecules in photosynthetic antenna complexes. Recent experiments and theories have highlighted the role of coherent transfer in femtosecond studies of these proteins, suggesting the need for accurate dynamical models to capture the subtle characteristics of energy transfer mechanisms. Here we discuss how to think about coherence in light harvesting and electronic energy transfer. We review the various fundamental concepts of coherence, spanning from classical phenomena to the quantum superposition, and define coherence in electronic energy transfer. We describe the current status of experimental studies on light-harvesting complexes. Insights into the microscopic process are presented to highlight how and why this is a challenging problem to elucidate. We present an overview of the applicable dynamical theories to model energy transfer in the intermediate coupling regime.

Keywords: exciton; intermediate coupling regime; light harvesting; nonequilibrium processes; process coherence; quantum biology; two-dimensional electronic spectroscopy.