Femtosecond dynamics drive the chemical reactions that sustain life. Biological systems harness these chemical reactions and indeed exercise control over the chemical reaction networks. We find this process fascinating because, this is exactly the goal of a chemist: to control molecular reactivity. We therefore have adapted our femtosecond multidimensional spectroscopies to be compatible with living cells allowing us to probe biological protein-pigment complexes inside their native organisms. This achievement required us to make a number of technical advances, but it is now allowing us to see exactly how the ultrafast chemical dynamics power biology and how biology exerts real-time control over the dynamics.
P.D. Dahlberg,* P.-C. Ting,* S.C. Massey, E.C. Martin, C.N. Hunter, and G.S. Engel, "Electronic Structure And Dynamics Of Higher-Lying Excited States In Light Harvesting Complex 1 From Rhodobacter sphaeroides" J. Phys. Chem. A, 120 4124–4130 2016.
P.D. Dahlberg, G.J. Norris, C. Wang, S. Viswanathan, V.P. Singh, and G.S. Engel , "Communication: Coherences observed in vivo in photosynthetic bacteria using two-dimensional electronic spectroscopy" J. Chem. Phys. 143, 101101 2015.
P.D. Dahlberg, A.F. Fidler, J.R. Caram, P.D. Long, and G.S. Engel, "Energy Transfer Observed In Live Cells Using Two-Dimensional Electronic Spectroscopy" J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 4, 3636-3640 2013.