Influence of weak vibrational-electronic couplings on 2D electronic spectra and inter-site coherence in weakly coupled photosynthetic complexes
Coherence oscillations measured in two-dimensional (2D) electronic spectra of pigment-protein complexes may have electronic, vibrational, or mixed-character vibronic origins, which depend on the degree of electronic-vibrational mixing. Oscillations from intrapigment vibrations can obscure the inter-site coherence lifetime of interest in elucidating the mechanisms of energy transfer in photosynthetic light-harvesting. Huang-Rhys factors (S) for low-frequency vibrations in Chlorophyll and Bacteriochlorophyll are quite small (S ≤ 0.05), so it is often assumed that these vibrations influence neither 2D spectra nor inter-site coherence dynamics. In this work, we explore the influence of S within this range on the oscillatory signatures in simulated 2D spectra of a pigment heterodimer. To visualize the inter-site coherence dynamics underlying the 2D spectra, we introduce a formalism which we call the "site-probe response." By comparing the calculated 2D spectra with the site-probe response, we show that an on-resonance vibration with Huang-Rhys factor as small as S = 0.005 and the most strongly coupled off-resonance vibrations (S = 0.05) give rise to long-lived, purely vibrational coherences at 77 K. We moreover calculate the correlation between optical pump interactions and subsequent entanglement between sites, as measured by the concurrence. At 77 K, greater long-lived inter-site coherence and entanglement appear with increasing S. This dependence all but vanishes at physiological temperature, as environmentally induced fluctuations destroy the vibronic mixing.