Natural and artificial light-harvesting systems utilizing the functions of carotenoids
Carotenoids are essential pigments in natural photosynthesis. They absorb in the blue–green region of the solar spectrum and transfer the absorbed energy to (bacterio-)chlorophylls, and so expand the wavelength range of light that is able to drive photosynthesis. This process is an example of singlet–singlet energy transfer and so carotenoids serve to enhance the overall efficiency of photosynthetic light reactions. Carotenoids also act to protect photosynthetic organisms from the harmful effects of excess exposure to light. In this case, triplet–triplet energy transfer from (bacterio-)chlorophyll to carotenoid plays a key role in this photoprotective reaction. In the light-harvesting pigment–protein complexes from purple photosynthetic bacteria and chlorophytes, carotenoids have an additional role, namely the structural stabilization of those complexes. In this article we review what is currently known about how carotenoids discharge these functions. The molecular architecture of photosynthetic systems will be outlined to provide a basis from which to describe the photochemistry of carotenoids, which underlies most of their important functions in photosynthesis. Then, the possibility to utilize the functions of carotenoids in artificial photosynthetic light-harvesting systems will be discussed. Some examples of the model systems are introduced.
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Journal: Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology C: Photochemistry Reviews - Volume 25, December 2015, Pages 46–70