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J Phys Chem B. 2006 Aug 31;110(34):17268-81.

Intermolecular coulomb couplings from ab initio electrostatic potentials: application to optical transitions of strongly coupled pigments in photosynthetic antennae and reaction centers.

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  • 1Freie Universitaet Berlin, Institut fuer Chemie (Kristallographie), Takustrasse, 6 D-14195 Berlin, Germany.


An accurate and numerically efficient method for the calculation of intermolecular Coulomb couplings between charge densities of electronic states and between transition densities of electronic excitations is presented. The coupling of transition densities yields the Förster type excitation energy transfer coupling, and from the charge density coupling, a shift in molecular excitation energies results. Starting from an ab initio calculation of the charge and transition densities, atomic partial charges are determined such as to fit the resulting electrostatic potentials of the different states and the transition. The different intermolecular couplings are then obtained from the Coulomb couplings between the respective atomic partial charges. The excitation energy transfer couplings obtained in the present TrEsp (transition charge from electrostatic potential) method are compared with couplings obtained from the simple point-dipole and extended dipole approximations and with those from the ab initio transition density cube method of Krüger, Scholes, and Fleming. The present method is of the same accuracy as the latter but computationally more efficient. The method is applied to study strongly coupled pigments in the light-harvesting complexes of green sulfur bacteria (FMO), purple bacteria (LH2), and higher plants (LHC-II) and the "special pairs" of bacterial reaction centers and reaction centers of photosystems I and II. For the pigment dimers in the antennae, it is found that the mutual orientation of the pigments is optimized for maximum excitonic coupling. A driving force for this orientation is the Coulomb coupling between ground-state charge densities. In the case of excitonic couplings in the "special pairs", a breakdown of the point-dipole approximation is found for all three reaction centers, but the extended dipole approximation works surprisingly well, if the extent of the transition dipole is chosen larger than assumed previously. For the "special pairs", a large shift in local transition energies is found due to charge density coupling.

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