We have employed molecular dynamics simulations and quantum chemistry methods to study the structures and electronic absorption properties of a novel type of photonic nanowire gel constructed by the self-assembly of peptide amphiphiles (PAs) and the chromophore-(PPIX)Zn molecules. Using molecular dynamics simulations, structures of the self-assembled fiber were determined with atomistic detail, including the distribution of chromophores along the nanofiber and the relative distances and orientations of pairs of chromophores. In addition, quantum chemistry calculations were used to determine the electronic structure and absorption properties of the chromophores in the fiber, so as to assess the capabilities of the nanofiber for photonics applications. The calculations show that the PA nanofiber provides an effective scaffold for the chromophores in which the chromophores form several clusters in which nearest neighbor chromophores are separated by less than 20 Å. The calculations also indicate that the chromophores can be in both the hydrophilic shell and hydrophobic core portions of the fiber. There are only small spectral shifts to the B-band of the porphyrins arising from the inhomogeneous microelectronic environment provided by the fiber. However, there are much stronger electronic interactions between nearby pairs of chromophores, leading to a more significant red shift of the B-band that is similar to what is found in the experiments and to significant excitonic coupling that is seen in circular dichroism spectra. This electronic interaction between chromophores associated with the PA nanofiber structure is crucial to future applications of these fibers for light-harvesting applications.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry