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[en] The native state of a protein consists of an equilibrium of conformational states on an energy landscape rather than existing as a single static state. The co-existence of conformers with different ligand-affinities in a dynamical equilibrium is the basis for the conformational selection model for ligand binding. In this context, the development of theoretical methods that allow us to analyze not only the structural changes but also changes in the fluctuation patterns between conformers will contribute to elucidate the differential properties acquired upon ligand binding. Molecular dynamics simulations can provide the required information to explore these features. Its use in combination with subsequent essential dynamics analysis allows separating large concerted conformational rearrangements from irrelevant fluctuations. We present a novel procedure to define the size and composition of essential dynamics subspaces associated with ligand-bound and ligand-free conformations. These definitions allow us to compare essential dynamics subspaces between different conformers. Our procedure attempts to emphasize the main similarities and differences between the different essential dynamics in an unbiased way. Essential dynamics subspaces associated to conformational transitions can also be analyzed. As a test case, we study the glutaminase interacting protein (GIP), composed of a single PDZ domain. Both GIP ligand-free state and glutaminase L peptide-bound states are analyzed. Our findings concerning the relative changes in the flexibility pattern upon binding are in good agreement with experimental Nuclear Magnetic Resonance data
[en] The efficiency of materials developed for solar energy and technological applications depends on the interplay between molecular architecture and light-induced electronic energy redistribution. The spatial localization of electronic excitations is very sensitive to molecular distortions. Vibrational nuclear motions can couple to electronic dynamics driving changes in localization. The electronic energy transfer among multiple chromophores arises from several distinct mechanisms that can give rise to experimentally measured signals. Atomistic simulations of coupled electron-vibrational dynamics can help uncover the nuclear motions directing energy flow. Through careful analysis of excited state wave function evolution and a useful fragmenting of multichromophore systems, through-bond transport and exciton hopping (through-space) mechanisms can be distinguished. Such insights are crucial in the interpretation of fluorescence anisotropy measurements and can aid materials design. Finally, this Perspective highlights the interconnected vibrational and electronic motions at the foundation of nonadiabatic dynamics where nuclear motions, including torsional rotations and bond vibrations, drive electronic transitions.
[en] By applying nonadiabatic excited-state molecular dynamics, we investigate excitation energy transfer and exciton localization dynamics in a chlorophyll a (Chla) dimer system at the interface of two monomers of light-harvesting complex II trimer. After its optical excitation at the red edge of the Soret (B) band, the Chla dimer experiences an ultrafast intra- and intermolecular nonradiative relaxation process to the lowest band (Qy). The energy relaxation is found to run faster in the Chla dimer than in the Chla monomer. Once the molecular system reaches the lowest Qy band composed of two lowest excited states S1 and S2, the concluding relaxation step involves the S2 → S1 population transfer, resulting in a relatively slower relaxation rate. The strength of thermal fluctuations exceeds intraband electronic coupling between the states belonging to a certain band (B, Qx, and Qy), producing localized states on individual chromophores. Therefore, time evolution of spatial electronic localization during internal conversion reveals transient trapping on one of the Chla monomers participating in the events of intermonomeric energy exchange. In the phase space domains where electronic states are strongly coupled, these states become nearly degenerate promoting Frenkel-exciton-like delocalization and interchromophore energy transfer. As energy relaxation occurs, redistribution of the transition density on two Chla monomers leads to nearly equal distribution of the exciton among the molecules. For a single Chla, our analysis of excitonic dynamics reveals wave function amplitude transfer from nitrogen and outer carbon atoms to inner carbon atoms during non-radiative relaxation.
[en] For this research, we have computationally investigated the role of intramolecular vibrational modes in determining nonradiative relaxation pathways of photoexcited electronic states in isolated chlorophyll A (ChlA) molecules. To simulate the excited state relaxation from the initially excited Soret state to the lowest excited state Qy, the approach of nonadiabatic excited state molecular dynamics has been adopted. The intramolecular vibrational energy relaxation and redistribution that accompany the electronic internal conversion process is followed by analyzing the excited state trajectories in terms of the ground state equilibrium normal modes. The time dependence of the normal mode velocities is determined by projecting instantaneous Cartesian velocities onto the normal mode vectors. Our analysis of the time evolution of the average mode energies uncovers that only a small subset of the medium-to-high frequency normal modes actively participate in the electronic relaxation processes. These active modes are characterized by the highest overlap with the nonadiabatic coupling vectors (NACRs) during the electronic transitions. Further statistical analysis of the nonadiabatic transitions reveals that the electronic and vibrational energy relaxation occurs via two distinct pathways with significantly different time scales on which the hopping from Soret to Qx occurs thereby dictating the overall dynamics. Furthermore, the NACRs corresponding to each of the transitions have been consistently found to be predominantly similar to a set of normal modes that vary depending upon the transition and the identified categories. Each pathway exhibits a differential time scale of energy transfer and also a differential set of predominant active modes. Lastly, our present analysis can be considered as a general approach allowing identification of a reduced subset of specific vibrational coordinates associated with nonradiative relaxation pathways. Therefore, it represents an adequate prior strategy that can particularly facilitates mixed quantum-classical approaches.
[en] The simulation of nonadiabatic dynamics in extended molecular systems involving hundreds of atoms and large densities of states is particularly challenging. Nonadiabatic coupling terms (NACTs) represent a significant numerical bottleneck in surface hopping approaches. Rather than using unreliable NACT cutting schemes, here we develop “on-the-fly” state limiting methods to eliminate states that are no longer essential for the non-radiative relaxation dynamics as a trajectory proceeds. We propose a state number criteria and an energy-based state limit. The latter is more physically relevant by requiring a user-imposed energy threshold. For this purpose, we introduce a local kinetic energy gauge by summing contributions from atoms within the spatial localization of the electronic wavefunction to define the energy available for upward hops. The proposed state limiting schemes are implemented within the nonadiabatic excited-state molecular dynamics framework to simulate photoinduced relaxation in poly-phenylene vinylene (PPV) and branched poly-phenylene ethynylene (PPE) oligomers for benchmark evaluation.