Dewey Holten

Dewey Holten

​Professor of Chemistry
PhD, University of Washington, Seattle
BA, Washington University in St. Louis
research interests:
  • Physical and Biophysical Chemistry
  • Primary Reactions of Photosynthesis
  • Tetrapyrrole Photophysics
  • Ultrafast Optical Spectroscopy

contact info:

mailing address:

  • Washington University
    CB 1134
    One Brookings Dr.
    St. Louis, MO 63130-4899

Professor Holten’s research interests include the initial reactions of photosynthesis and studies of tetrapyrrole chromophores and arrays. The goal of his lab's photosynthesis research is to achieve a molecular-level understanding of charge separation in the bacterial reaction center. 

In this pigment-protein complex, light energy is converted into chemical potential energy by a series of fast electron transfers across the membrane from the photoexcited bacteriochlorophyll special dimer along a chain of electron acceptors on the photoactive A-branch with a quantum yield of ~1. His lab is studying mutants to (1) probe the contributions of energetics versus electronic interactions to the directionality of electron transfer, (2) modulate the rate constants and yields of charge separation versus recombination at each step on both branches, and (3) give electron transfer fully down the normally inactive B branch. Their studies of tetrapyrrole chromophores (porphyrin, chlorin, bacteriochlorin) chromophores are aimed at elucidating the fundamental interplay between molecular composition, electronic structure, and photophysical properties. These properties include absorption and emission spectra and the rate constants and yields of the singlet excited-state decay pathways (fluorescence, internal conversion, intersystem crossing). Studies of multichromophore arrays probe fundamental aspects of energy and electron transfer and include design and characterization of biohybrid light-harvesting architectures that integrate designer chromophores with native-like peptide scaffolds to enhance solar coverage.

Selected Publications

Effects of Substituents on Synthetic Analogs of Chlorophylls.  Part 4: How Formyl Group Location Dictates the Spectral Properties of Chlorophylls b, d and f, J. M. Yuen, M. A. Harris, M. Liu, J. R. Diers, C. Kirmaier, D. F. Bocian, J. S. Lindsey and D. Holten, Photochem. Photobiol.2015, 91, 331-342.

Extending the Short and Long Wavelength Limits of Bacteriochlorin Near-Infrared Absorption via Dioxo- and Bisimide-Functionalization, P. Vairaprakash, E. Yang, T. Sahin, M. Taniguchi, M. Krayer, J. R. Diers, A. Wang, D. M. Niedzwiedzki, C. Kirmaier, J. S. Lindsey, D. F. Bocian, and D. Holten, J. Phys. Chem. B, 2015, 119, 4382-4995.

Optimizing Multi-Step B-side Charge Separation in Photosynthetic Reaction Centers from Rhodobacter capsulatus, K. M. Faries, L. Kressel, N. P. Dylla, Marc J. Wander, D. K. Hanson, D. Holten, P. D. Laible, C. Kirmaier, Biochem. Biophys Acta. 2016, 1857,150-159.

Effects of Strong Electronic Coupling in Chlorin and Bacteriochlorin Dyads, H. S. Kang, N. N. Esemoto, J. R. Diers, D. M. Niedzwiedzki, J. A. Greco, J. Akhigbe, Z. Yu, C. Pancholi, G. V. Bhagavathy, J. K. Nguyen, C. Kirmaier, R. R. Birge, M. Ptaszek, D. Holten and D. F. Bocian, J. Phys. Chem. A. 2016, 120, 379-395.

Manipulating the Energetics and Rates of Electron Transfer in R. capsulatus Reaction Centers with Asymmetric Pigment Content, K. M. Faries, N. P. Dylla, D. K. Hanson, D. Holten, P. D. Laible, C. Kirmaier, J. Phys. Chem. B., 2017, 121, 6989-7004.

Augmenting light coverage for photosynthesis through YFP-enhanced charge separation at the Rhodobacter sphaeroides reaction centre, K. J. Grayson, K. M. Faries, X. Huang, P. Qian, P. Dilbeck, E. C. Martin, A. Hitchcock, C. Vasilev, J. M. Yuen, D. M. Niedzwiedzki, G. J. Leggett, D. Holten, C. Kirmaier and C. N. Hunter, Nature Communications, 2017, 8, 1-12.

Tailoring Panchromatic Absorption and Excited-State Dynamics of Tetrapyrrole–Chromophore (Bodipy, Rylene) Arrays. The Interplay of Orbital Mixing and Configuration Interaction, A. K. Mandal, J. R. Diers, D. M. Niedziedzki, G. Hu, R. Liu, E. J. Alexy, J. S. Lindsey, D. F. Bocian, and D. Holten, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017, 139, 17547-17564.

Origin of Panchromaticity in Multichromophore-Tetrapyrrole Arrays, J. M. Yuen, J. R. Diers, E. J. Alexy, A. Roy, A. K. Mandal, H. S. Kang, D. M. Niedzwiedzki, C. Kirmaier, J. S. Lindsey, D. F. B, and D. Holten , J. Phys. Chem. A 2018, 122, 7181-7201.