Both in natural photosynthetic systems and also their molecularly engineered mimics, energy is generally transferred to the sites of its chemical storage from other sites of primary optical excitation. This migration process generally entails a number of steps, frequently involving intermediary chromophore units, with each step characterised by high efficiency and rapidity. Energy thereby accrues at reaction centres where its chemical storage occurs. At high levels of irradiation, energy harvesting material can exhibit novel forms of optical nonlinearity. Such behaviour is associated with the direct pooling of excitation energy, enabling secondary acceptors to undergo transitions to states whose energy equals that of two or more input photons, subject to decay losses. Observations of this kind have now been made on a variety of materials, ranging from photoactive dyes, through fullerene derivatives, to lanthanide doped crystals. Recently developed theory has established the underlying principles and links between the modes of operation of these systems. Key factors include the chromophore layout and geometry, electronic structure and optical selection rules. Mesoscopic symmetry, especially in photosynthetic pigment arrays and also in their dendrimeric mimics, is here linked to the transient establishment of excitons. The involvement of excitons in energy harvesting is nonetheless substantially compromised by local disorder. The interplay of these factors in photoactive materials design is discussed in the context of new materials for operation with intense laser light.
|Number of pages||10|
|Publication status||Published - 9 Jul 2001|