Formation and decay of localized contact radical ion pairs in DNA hairpins

Frederick D. Lewis*, Xiaoyang Liu, Scott E. Miller, Ryan T. Hayes, Michael R. Wasielewski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


The dynamics of charge separation and charge recombination in synthetic DNA hairpins possessing diphenylacetylene-4,4′-dicarboxamide linkers have been investigated by means of femtosecond time-resolved transient absorption spectroscopy. The lowest excited singlet state of the linker is capable of oxidizing nearest neighbor adenine as well as guanine. A large wavelength shift in the transient absorption spectrum accompanies the conversion of the singlet linker to its anion radical, facilitating the investigation of electron-transfer dynamics. The rate constants for charge separation are dependent upon the oxidation potentials of the neighboring nucleobase donors but not upon the identity of nonnearest neighbors. Thus, the charge separation processes yield a contact radical ion pair in which the positive charge is localized on the neighboring nucleobase. Rate constants for charge recombination are dependent upon the identity of the first and second nearest-neighbor nucleobases but not more remote bases. This dependence is attributed to stabilization of the contact radical ion pair by interaction with its nearest neighbor. The absence of charge migration to form a base-pair separated radical ion pair is a consequence of Coulombic attraction in the contact radical ion pair and the low effective dielectric constant (ε < 7) experienced by the contact radical ion pair. Photoinduced charge injection to form a base-pair separated radical ion pair is necessary in order to observe charge migration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14020-14026
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number47
StatePublished - Nov 27 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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