Photogenerated Spin-Correlated Radical Pairs: From Photosynthetic Energy Transduction to Quantum Information Science

Samantha M. Harvey, Michael R. Wasielewski*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


More than a half century ago, the NMR spectra of diamagnetic products resulting from radical pair reactions were observed to have strongly enhanced absorptive and emissive resonances. At the same time, photogenerated radical pairs were discovered to exhibit unusual electron paramagnetic resonance spectra that also had such resonances. These non-Boltzmann, spin-polarized spectra were observed in both chemical systems as well as in photosynthetic reaction center proteins following photodriven charge separation. Subsequent studies of these phenomena led to a variety of chemical electron donor-acceptor model systems that provided a broad understanding of the spin dynamics responsible for these spectra. When the distance between the two radicals is restricted, these observations result from the formation of spin-correlated radical pairs (SCRPs) in which the spin-spin exchange and dipolar interactions between the two unpaired spins play an important role in the spin dynamics. Early on, it was recognized that SCRPs photogenerated by ultrafast electron transfer are entangled spin pairs created in a well-defined spin state. These SCRPs can serve as spin qubit pairs (SQPs), whose spin dynamics can be manipulated to study a wide variety of quantum phenomena intrinsic to the field of quantum information science. This Perspective highlights the role of SCRPs as SQPs, gives examples of possible quantum manipulations using SQPs, and provides some thoughts on future directions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15508-15529
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number38
StatePublished - Sep 29 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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