Carotenoids in photosynthetic light-harvesting proteins can both harvest light energy and act as a protective barrier depending on light intensity. This is an emergent behavior where to same pigment can perform both functions depending on a complex network of interactions with other pigments. The FCP photosynthetic algae is a heavily experimentally-probed example but so far there is no general model of this dual behavior. In this project, using theoretical physics, quantum chemistry and bio-molecular simulation, we will develop a general theory of how a single protein can be both an ultra-efficient solar panel and an effective sun-screen.
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2 Huzifa et al. Energy dissipation mechanisms in the FCPb light-harvesting complex of the diatom Cyclotella meneghiniana. BBA-Bioenergetics 1859, 1151-1160 (2018)
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4 Balevicius Jr. et al. The full dynamics of energy relaxation in large organic molecules: From photo-excitation to solvent heating. Chem. Sci. 10, 4792-4804 (2019)