Carotenoid Nuclear Reorganization and Interplay of Bright and Dark Excited States

Elliot J. Taffet, Benjamin G. Lee, Zi S.D. Toa, Natalie Pace, Garry Rumbles, June Southall, Richard J. Cogdell, Gregory D. Scholes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


We report quantum chemical calculations using multireference perturbation theory (MRPT) with the density matrix renormalization group (DMRG) plus photothermal deflection spectroscopy measurements to investigate the manifold of carotenoid excited states and establish their energies relative to the bright state (S2) as a function of nuclear reorganization. We conclude that the primary photophysics and function of carotenoids are determined by interplay of only the bright (S2) and lowest-energy dark (S1) states. The lowest-lying dark state, far from being energetically distinguishable from the lowest-lying bright state along the entire excited-state nuclear reorganization pathway, is instead computed to be either the second or first excited state depending on what equilibrium geometry is considered. This result suggests that, rather than there being a dark intermediate excited state bridging a non-negligible energy gap from the lowest-lying dark state to the lowest-lying bright state, there is in fact no appreciable energy gap to bridge following photoexcitation. Instead, excited-state nuclear reorganization constitutes the bridge from S2 to S1, in the sense that these two states attain energetic degeneracy along this pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8628-8643
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number41
StatePublished - Oct 17 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Materials Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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