Unravelling the role of the protein environment on photoactive yellow protein chromophore dynamics

Professor Helen Fielding (primary)
Rachel Crespo-Otero (secondary)


Electron transfer reactions are essential in biology, however, the mechanism for the formation of solvated electrons in biological media is not well understood. Photoactive yellow protein (PYP), a blue-light photoreceptor, can be used as a model to investigate these processes in protein environments. In this project, the student will investigate the formation of solvated electrons following the photoexcitation of PYP by using a combination of time-resolved liquid-microjet photoelectron spectroscopy and high-level computational techniques. This research will help decipher the role of the environment on the formation of solvated electrons impacting our understanding of electron transfer reactions in proteins.


1. Photoionization and Electron Radical Recombination Dynamics in Photoactive Yellow Protein Investigated by Ultrafast Spectroscopy in the Visible and Near-Infrared Spectral Region. Zhu et al., J. Phys. Chem. B 2013, 117, 11042
2. Photoisomerization and Photoionization of the Photoactive Yellow Protein Chromophore in Solution
Larsen et al., Biophysical Journal, 2004, 86, 2538
3. Unravelling the Role of an Aqueous Environment on the Electronic Structure and Ionization of Phenol Using Photoelectron Spectroscopy. Riley et al., J. Phys. Chem. Lett., 2018, 9, 678
4. Steady and Time-Resolved Photoelectron Spectra Based on Nuclear Ensembles. Arbelo-Gonzalez et al., J. Chem. Theory Comp. 2016, 12, 5034
5. Ultrafast dynamics of UV-excited imidazole. Crespo-Otero et al., Chem. Phys. Chem. 2011, 12, 3365

Molecules, cells and industrial biotechnology
Area of Biology
Techniques & Approaches
ChemistryMolecular BiologySimulation / Modelling