DOI: 10.1063/1.432142 ISSN:

Temperature dependent activation energy for electron transfer between biological molecules

Joshua Jortner
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • General Physics and Astronomy

This paper considers electron transfer between biological molecules in terms of a nonadiabatic multiphonon nonradiative decay process in a dense medium. This theoretical approach is analogous to an extended quantum mechanical theory of outer sphere electron transfer processes, incorporating the effects of both low-frequency medium phonon modes and the high-frequency molecular modes. An explicit, compact and useful expression for the electron transfer probability is derived, which is valid throughout the entire temperature range, exhibiting a continuous transition from temperature independent tunneling between nuclear potential surfaces at low temperatures to an activated rate expression at high temperatures. This result drastically differs at low temperatures from the common, semiclassical, Gaussian approximation for the transition probability. The experimental data of De Vault and Chance [Biophys. J. 6, 825 (1966)] on the temperature dependence of the rate of electron transfer from cytochrome to the chlorophyll reaction center in the photosynthetic bacterium Chromatium are properly accounted for in terms of the present theory.

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