University of Tartu
Institute of Physics
Laboratory of Biophysics
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Research

Our research is focused on experimental and theoretical investigations of molecular processes of photosynthesis, of spectral properties of photosynthetic chromoproteins, and of stability of integral membrane proteins under high hydrostatic pressure. A long-term goal of these studies is a deeper understanding of the basic physical mechanisms of biomolecular functioning as well as of biocomplexity.

Research directions

Available techniques and major setups

A unique combination of advanced high-resolution laser spectroscopy techniques (time-resolved spectroscopy in femto-picosecond time domain, hole-burning and fluorescence line-narrowing spectroscopy), high-pressure spectroscopy and physical modeling is used to study biophysical systems and processes.

(Topics with + signs can be expanded by clicking)

  • Femtosecond pump-probe differential absorption spectrometer +
  • Picosecond fluorescence spectrochronograph +
  • Time-correlated single-photon counting system (EG&G Ortec) together with SPCM-AQR (Perkin Elmer) avalanche photodetector (time resolution 300 ps, dark count 22 Hz).
  • A selective spectroscopy setup +
  • High-pressure instrumentation based on conventional and diamond anvil cells for optical measurements at variable pressures up to 70 kbar and temperatures down to 10 K. +
  • Micro-Raman spectroscopy system (Renishaw).
  • Circular dichroism spectroscopy +
  • Laser tweezers +

Current projects

  1. Physical studies of biologically relevant molecules and molecular complexes. Target Project SF0180055s07 (2007-2012) of the Estonian Ministry of Education and Science.
  2. Electron-vibration Interactions in Nanoscale Molecular Aggregates With Spectral Disorder. Estonian Science Foundation Grant 8674 (2011-2014).
  3. Infrasrtructural Grant within the Target Project SF0180055s07 of the Estonian Ministry of Education and Science (2011-2012)
  4. Time evolution of electronic excitation in photosynthetic complexes. MOBILITAS Postdoctoral Research Grant (2011-2013)
  5. Energy level structure and protein dynamics in a natural light-harvesting complex. Estonian Science Foundation Grant 9453 (2012-2015)
  6. Assembly of Photosynthetic Light-Harvesting Complexes in Whole Cells. NSF Grant (2012-2014, in cooperation with N. Woodbury and S. Lin, Arizona State University)

Selected active cooperation partners

  • Arizona State University, Prof. Neal W. Woodbury, Prof. James Allen, Dr. Su Lin
  • CEA-Saclay, Prof. Bruno Robert
  • Free University of Amsterdam, Prof. Rienk van Grondelle
  • Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Prof. Harald Paulsen
  • Lund University, Prof. Villy Sundström, Prof. Tõnu Pullerits, Dr. Ivan Scheblykin
  • Max Planck Institute for Bioinorganic Chemistry, Mülheim, Prof. Alfred Holzwarth
  • Technical University Berlin, Prof. Gernot Renger, Prof. Hans Joachim Eichler
  • University of Sydney, Prof. Jeffrey R. Reimers
  • Universität Bayreuth, Prof. Jürgen Köhler
  • University College Dublin: Prof. David Coker
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Prof. Klaus Schulten
  • University of Jyväskylä, Juha Linnanto
  • University of Sheffield, Prof. Neil Hunter, Dr. John D. Olsen
  • Vilnius Institute of Physics, Dr. Gediminas Trinkunas