Polymer–Chlorosome Nanocomposites Consisting of Non-Native Combinations of Self-Assembling Bacteriochlorophylls

Chlorosomes are one of the characteristic light-harvesting antennas from green sulfur bacteria. These complexes represent a unique paradigm: self-assembly of bacteriochlorophyll pigments within a lipid monolayer without the influence of protein. Because of their large size and reduced complexity, they have been targeted as models for the development of bioinspired light-harvesting arrays. We report the production of biohybrid light-harvesting nanocomposites mimicking chlorosomes, composed of amphiphilic diblock copolymer membrane bodies that incorporate thousands of natural self-assembling bacteriochlorophyll molecules derived from green sulfur bacteria. The driving force behind the assembly of these polymer–chlorosome nanocomposites is the transfer of the mixed raw materials from the organic to the aqueous phase. We incorporated up to five different self-assembling pigment types into single nanocomposites that mimic chlorosome morphology. We establish that the copolymer-BChl self-assembly process works smoothly even when non-native combinations of BChl homologues are included. Spectroscopic characterization revealed that the different types of self-assembling pigments participate in ultrafast energy transfer, expanding beyond single chromophore constraints of the natural chlorosome system. This study further demonstrates the utility of flexible short-chain, diblock copolymers for building scalable, tunable light-harvesting arrays for technological use and allows for an in vitro analysis of the flexibility of natural self-assembling chromophores in unique and controlled combinations.