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Unraveling the Intrinsic Color of Chlorophyl

Authors: Bruce F. Milne, Yoni Toker, Angel Rubio, Steen Brøndsted Nielsen

Ref.: Angewandte Chemie International Edition (2014)

Abstract: The exact color of light absorbed by chlorophyll (Chl) pigments, the light-harvesters in photosynthesis, is tuned by the protein microenvironment, but without knowledge of the intrinsic color of Chl it remains unclear how large this effect is. Experimental first absorption energies of Chl a and b isolated in vacuo and tagged with quaternary ammonium cations are reported. The energies are largely insensitive to details of the tag structure, a finding supported by first-principles calculations using time-dependent density functional theory. Absorption is significantly blue-shifted compared to that of Chl-containing proteins (by 30–70 nm). A single red-shifting perturbation, such as axial ligation or the protein medium, is insufficient to account even for the smallest shift; the largest requires pigment–pigment interactions.

DOI: 10.1002/anie.201410899