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J Chem Phys. 2010 Nov 14;133(18):184108. doi: 10.1063/1.3498901.

Iterative linearized density matrix propagation for modeling coherent excitation energy transfer in photosynthetic light harvesting.

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Department of Chemistry, Boston University, 590 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.


Rather than incoherent hopping between chromophores, experimental evidence suggests that the excitation energy transfer in some biological light harvesting systems initially occurs coherently, and involves coherent superposition states in which excitation spreads over multiple chromophores separated by several nanometers. Treating such delocalized coherent superposition states in the presence of decoherence and dissipation arising from coupling to an environment is a significant challenge for conventional theoretical tools that either use a perturbative approach or make the Markovian approximation. In this paper, we extend the recently developed iterative linearized density matrix (ILDM) propagation scheme [E. R. Dunkel et al., J. Chem. Phys. 129, 114106 (2008)] to study coherent excitation energy transfer in a model of the Fenna-Matthews-Olsen light harvesting complex from green sulfur bacteria. This approach is nonperturbative and uses a discrete path integral description employing a short time approximation to the density matrix propagator that accounts for interference between forward and backward paths of the quantum excitonic system while linearizing the phase in the difference between the forward and backward paths of the environmental degrees of freedom resulting in a classical-like treatment of these variables. The approach avoids making the Markovian approximation and we demonstrate that it successfully describes the coherent beating of the site populations on different chromophores and gives good agreement with other methods that have been developed recently for going beyond the usual approximations, thus providing a new reliable theoretical tool to study coherent exciton transfer in light harvesting systems. We conclude with a discussion of decoherence in independent bilinearly coupled harmonic chromophore baths. The ILDM propagation approach in principle can be applied to more general descriptions of the environment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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