Melih Sener, Johan Strümpfer, Jen Hsin, Danielle Chandler, Simon Scheuring, C. Neil Hunter, and Klaus Schulten. Förster energy transfer theory as reflected in the structures of photosynthetic light harvesting systems. ChemPhysChem, 12:518-531, 2011. (PMC: 3098534)

SENE2011 Förster resonant energy transfer underlies a fundamental process in nature, namely the harvesting of sunlight by photosynthetic life forms. The theoretical framework developed by Förster and others describes how electronic excitation migrates in the photosynthetic apparatus of plants, algae, and bacteria from light absorbing pigments to so-called reaction centers where light energy is utilized for the eventual conversion into chemical energy. The demand for highest possible efficiency of light harvesting appears to have shaped the evolution of photosynthetic species from bacteria to plants which, despite a great variation in architecture, display common structural themes determined by the physics of energy transfer as described first by Förster. In this review, the Förster theory of excitation transfer is summarized including recent extensions, and the relevance of the theory for photosynthetic systems found in purple bacteria, cynobacteria, and plants is demonstrated. In an Appendix, Förster's famous energy transfer formula, as used today in many fields of science, is derived.


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