Using Proton Geminate Recombination as a Probe of Proton Migration on Biological Membranes

Alexei A. Stuchebrukhov, Ambili Ramanthrikkovil Variyam, Nadav Amdursky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Proton migration on biological membranes plays a major role in cellular respiration and photosynthesis, but it is not yet fully understood. Here we show that proton dissociation kinetics and related geminate recombination can be used as a probe of such proton migration mechanisms. We develop a simple model for the process and apply it to analyze the results obtained using a photo-induced proton release probe (chemically modified photoacid) tethered to phosphatidylcholine membranes. In our theoretical model, we apply approximate treatment for the diffusional cloud of the geminate proton around the dissociated photoacid and consider arbitrary dimension of the system, 1 < d < 3. We observe that in d > 2, there is a kinetic phase transition between an exponential and a power-law kinetic phases. The existence of an exponential decay phase at the beginning of the proton dissociation is a signature of d > 2 systems. In most other cases, the exponential decay phase is not present, and the kinetics follows a diffusional power-law P(t) ∼t-d/2that develops after a short initiation time. Specifically, in a 1D case, which corresponds to the desorption of a proton from the surface, the dissociation occurs by the slow power-law ∼1/t and explains the abnormally slow desorption rate reported recently in experiments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6026-6038
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number32
StatePublished - 18 Aug 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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