In photosynthesis absorbed sun light produces collective excitations (excitons) that form a coherent superposition of electronic and vibrational states of the individual pigments. Two-dimensional (2D) electronic spectroscopy allows a visualization of how these coherences are involved in the primary processes of energy and charge transfer. Based on quantitative modeling we identify the exciton-vibrational coherences observed in 2D photon echo of the photosystem II reaction center (PSII-RC). We find that the vibrations resonant with the exciton splittings can modify the delocalization of the exciton states and produce additional states, thus promoting directed energy transfer and allowing a switch between the two charge separation pathways. We conclude that the coincidence of the frequencies of the most intense vibrations with the splittings within the manifold of exciton and charge-transfer states in the PSII-RC is not occurring by chance, but reflects a fundamental principle of how energy conversion in photosynthesis was optimized.
Novoderezhkin, V. I., Romero Mesa, E., & van Grondelle, R. (2015). How exciton-vibrational coherences control charge separation in the photosystem II reaction center. Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics - PCCP, 17(46), 30828-30841. https://doi.org/10.1039/c5cp00582e