Coherence in electron transfer pathways.
Central to the view of electron-transfer reactions is the idea that nuclear motion generates a transition state geometry at which the electron/hole amplitude propagates coherently from the electron donor to the electron acceptor. In the weakly coupled or nonadiabatic regime, the electron amplitude tunnels through an electronic barrier between the donor and acceptor. The structure of the barrier is determined by the covalent and noncovalent interactions of the bridge. Because the tunneling barrier depends on the nuclear coordinates of the reactants (and on the surrounding medium), the tunneling barrier is highly anisotropic, and it is useful to identify particular routes, or pathways, along which the transmission amplitude propagates. Moreover, when more than one such pathway exists, and the paths give rise to comparable transmission amplitude magnitudes, one may expect to observe quantum interferences among pathways if the propagation remains coherent. Given that the effective tunneling barrier height and width are affected by the nuclear positions, the modulation of the nuclear coordinates will lead to a modulation of the tunneling barrier and hence of the electron flow. For long distance electron transfer in biological and biomimetic systems, nuclear fluctuations, arising from flexible protein moieties and mobile water bridges, can become quite significant. We discuss experimental and theoretical results that explore the quantum interferences among coupling pathways in electron-transfer kinetics; we emphasize recent data and theories associated with the signatures of chirality and inelastic processes, which are manifested in the tunneling pathway coherence (or absence of coherence).
Skourtis, SS; Beratan, DN; Waldeck, DH
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