Many key chemical and biochemical reactions, particularly in living cells, take place in confined space at the mesoscopic scale. Towards understanding of physicochemical nature of biomacromolecules confined in nanoscale space, in this work we have elucidated fluorescent effects of a light harvesting complex LH2 in nanoscale chemical environments. Mesoporous silicas (SBA-15 family) with different shapes and pore sizes were synthesized and used to create nanoscale biomimetic environments for molecular confinement of LH2. A combination of UV-vis absorption, wide-field fluorescence microscopy and in-situ ellipsometry supports that the LH2 complexes are located inside the silica nanopores. Systematic fluorescence effects were observed and depend on degree of space confinement. In particular, the temperature dependence of the steady-state fluorescence spectra was analyzed in detail using condensed matter bandshape theories. Systematic electronic-vibrational coupling differences in the LH2 transitions between the free and confined states are found, mostly likely responsible for the fluorescence effects experimentally observed.
Journal of Physical Chemistry Part C: Nanomaterials, Interfaces and Hard Matter, 2013, Vol 117, Issue 6, p. 2868-2878