Vibronic Enhancement of Algae Light Harvesting

Jacob C. Dean, Tihana Mirkovic, Zi S.D. Toa, Daniel G. Oblinsky, Gregory D. Scholes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


Plants, algae, and photosynthetic bacteria use surprisingly sophisticated optimizations at the quantum mechanical level to harvest the sun's energy. The observation of coherence phenomena within light-harvesting complexes after short laser-pulse excitation has inspired advances in our understanding of light-harvesting optimization, highlighting the interplay of electronic excitations and vibrations. However, it remains unclear how these vibronic effects change or optimize the function of light-harvesting complexes—in other words, what is the design principle we could learn? Here, we use two-dimensional electronic spectroscopy to quantify the vibronic mixing among the light-absorbing molecules of a light-harvesting complex from cryptophyte algae. These data reveal a striking reallocation of absorption strength that, in turn, provides a robust increase in the rate of energy transfer of up to 3.5-fold. The realization of how absorption-strength redistribution, induced by vibronic coupling, provides a multiplicative increase in the rate of energy funneling establishes a bioinspired design principle for optimal light-harvesting systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)858-872
Number of pages15
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 8 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Materials Chemistry


  • cryptophyte algae
  • light-harvesting complexes
  • photosynthesis
  • two-dimensional electronic spectroscopy
  • ultrafast spectroscopy


Dive into the research topics of 'Vibronic Enhancement of Algae Light Harvesting'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this