Polaron assisted charge transfer in model biological systems

  • Guangqi LiEmail author
  • Bijan Movaghar
Regular Article


We use a tight binding Hamiltonian to simulate the electron transfer from an initial charge-separating exciton to a final target state through a two-arm transfer model. The structure is copied from the model frequently used to describe electron harvesting in photosynthesis (photosystems I). We use this network to provide proof of principle for dynamics, in quantum system/bath networks, especially those involving interference pathways, and use these results to make predictions on artificially realizable systems. Each site is coupled to the phonon bath via several electron-phonon couplings. The assumed large energy gaps and weak tunneling integrals linking the last 3 sites give rise to“Stark Wannier like” quantum localization; electron transfer to the target cluster becomes impossible without bath coupling. As a result of the electron-phonon coupling, local electronic energies relax when the site is occupied, and transient polaronic states are formed as photo-generated electrons traverse the system. For a symmetric constructively interfering two pathway network, the population is shared equally between two sets of equivalent sites and therefore the polaron energy shift is smaller. The smaller energy shift however makes the tunnel transfer to the last site slower or blocks it altogether. Slight disorder (or thermal noise) can break the symmetry, permitting essentially a “one path”, and correspondingly more efficient transfer.


Mesoscopic and Nanoscale Systems 


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Copyright information

© EDP Sciences, SIF, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ChemistryNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

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