Photodynamics in complex environments: Ab initio multiple spawning quantum mechanical/molecular mechanical dynamics

Aaron M. Virshup, Chutintorn Punwong, Taras V. Pogorelov, Beth A. Lindquist, Chaehyuk Ko, Todd J. Martínez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Our picture of reactions on electronically excited states has evolved considerably in recent years, due to advances in our understanding of points of degeneracy between different electronic states, termed "conical intersections" (CIs). CIs serve as funnels for population transfer between different electronic states, and play a central role in ultrafast photochemistry. Because most practical photochemistry occurs in solution and protein environments, it is important to understand the role complex environments play in directing excited-state dynamics generally, as well as specific environmental effects on CI geometries and energies. In order to model such effects, we employ the full multiple spawning (FMS) method for multistate quantum dynamics, together with hybrid quantum mechanical/molecular mechanical (QM/MM) potential energy surfaces using both semiempirical and ab initio QM methods. In this article, we present an overview of these methods, and a comparison of the excited-state dynamics of several biological chromophores in solvent and protein environments. Aqueous solvation increases the rate of quenching to the ground state for both the photoactive yellow protein (PYP) and green fluorescent protein (GFP) chromophores, apparently by energetic stabilization of their respective CIs. In contrast, solvation in methanol retards the quenching process of the retinal protonated Schiff base (RPSB), the rhodopsin chromophore. Protein environments serve to direct the excited-state dynamics, leading to higher quantum yields and enhanced reaction selectivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3280-3291
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number11
StatePublished - Mar 19 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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