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Durham University

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Publication details for Prof. Jan R.R. Verlet

Anstöter, Cate S., Dean, Charlie R. & Verlet, Jan R. R. (2017). Chromophores of chromophores: a bottom-up Hückel picture of the excited states of photoactive proteins. Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics 19(44): 29772-29779.

Author(s) from Durham


Many photoactive proteins contain chromophores based on para-substituted phenolate anions which are an essential component of their electronic structure. Here, we present a reductionist approach to gain fundamental insight into the evolution of electronic structure as the chromophore increases in complexity from phenolate to that in GFP. Using frequency- and angle-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy, in combination with electronic structure theory, the onset of excited states that are responsible for the characteristic spectroscopic features in biochromophores are determined. A comprehensive, yet intuitive picture of the effect of phenolate functionalisation is developed based on simple Hückel theory. Specifically, the first two bright excited states can be constructed from a linear combination of molecular orbitals localised on the phenolate and para-substituent groups. This essential interaction is first observed for p-vinyl-phenolate. This bottom-up approach offers a readily accessible framework for the design of photoactive chromophores.