In the development of highly efficient materials for harvesting solar energy, there is an increasing focus on purpose-built dendrimers and allied multi-chromophore systems. A proliferation of antenna chromophores is not the only factor determining the sought light-harvesting efficiency; the internal geometry and photophysics of these molecules are also crucially important. In particular, the mechanisms by means of which radiant energy is ultimately trapped depends on an intricate interplay of electronic, structural, energetic and symmetry properties. To better understand these processes a sound theoretical representation of the intramolecular electrodynamics is required. A suitable formalism, based on quantum electrodynamics, readily delivers physical insights into the necessary excitation channelling processes, and it affords a rigorous basis for modelling the intramolecular flow of energy. © 2009 The Royal Society of Chemistry.