Anisotropic organization and microscopic manipulation of self-assembling synthetic porphyrin microrods that mimic chlorosomes: Bacterial light-harvesting systems

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Journal Article
Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2012, 134 (2), pp. 944 - 954
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Being able to control in time and space the positioning, orientation, movement, and sense of rotation of nano- to microscale objects is currently an active research area in nanoscience, having diverse nanotechnological applications. In this paper, we demonstrate unprecedented control and maneuvering of rod-shaped or tubular nanostructures with high aspect ratios which are formed by self-assembling synthetic porphyrins. The self-assembly algorithm, encoded by appended chemical-recognition groups on the periphery of these porphyrins, is the same as the one operating for chlorosomal bacteriochlorophylls (BChl's). Chlorosomes, rod-shaped organelles with relatively long-range molecular order, are the most efficient naturally occurring light-harvesting systems.(1, 2) They are used by green photosynthetic bacteria to trap visible and infrared light of minute intensities even at great depths, e.g., 100 m below water surface or in volcanic vents in the absence of solar radiation. In contrast to most other natural light-harvesting systems, the chlorosomal antennae are devoid of a protein scaffold to orient the BChl's; thus, they are an attractive goal for mimicry by synthetic chemists, who are able to engineer more robust chromophores to self-assemble. Functional devices with environmentally friendly chromophores-which should be able to act as photosensitizers within hybrid solar cells, leading to high photon-to-current conversion efficiencies even under low illumination conditions-have yet to be fabricated. The orderly manner in which the BChl's and their synthetic counterparts self-assemble imparts strong diamagnetic and optical anisotropies and flow/shear characteristics to their nanostructured assemblies, allowing them to be manipulated by electrical, magnetic, or tribomechanical forces. © 2011 American Chemical Society.
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