Turning the challenge of quantum biology on its head: Biological control of quantum optical systems

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Research units

  • University of Sheffield

Abstract

When light-harvesting complex II (LHCII), isolated from spinach, is adsorbed onto arrays of gold nanostructures formed by interferometric lithography, a pronounced splitting of the plasmon band is observed that is attributable to strong coupling of the localised surface plasmon resonance to excitons in the pigment-protein complex. The system is modelled as coupled harmonic oscillators, yielding an exciton energy of 2.24 ± 0.02 eV. Analysis of dispersion curves yields a Rabi energy of 0.25 eV. Extinction spectra of the strongly coupled system yield a resonance at 1.43 eV that varies as a function of the density of nanostructures in the array. The enhanced intensity of this feature is attributed to strong plasmon-exciton coupling. Comparison of data for a large number of light-harvesting complexes indicates that by control of the protein structure and/or pigment compliment it is possible to manipulate the strength of plasmon-exciton coupling. In strongly coupled systems, ultra-fast exchange of energy occurs between pigment molecules: coherent coupling between non-local excitons can be manipulated via selection of the protein structure enabling the observation of transitions that are not seen in the weak coupling regime. Synthetic biology thus provides a means to control quantum-optical interactions in the strong coupling regime.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-71
Number of pages15
JournalFaraday Discussions
Volume216
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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