Light activation of the isomerization and deprotonation of the protonated Schiff base retinal. Academic Article uri icon


  • We perform an ab initio analysis of the photoisomerization of the protonated Schiff base of retinal (PSB-retinal) from 11-cis to 11-trans rotating the C10-C11=C12-C13 dihedral angle from 0 (cis) to -180 (trans). We find that the retinal molecule shows the lowest rotational barrier (0.22 eV) when its charge state is zero as compared to the barrier for the protonated molecule which is 0.89 eV. We conclude that rotation most likely takes place in the excited state of the deprotonated retinal. The addition of a proton creates a much larger barrier implying a switching behavior of retinal that might be useful for several applications in molecular electronics. All conformations of the retinal compound absorb in the green region with small shifts following the dihedral angle rotation; however, the Schiff base of retinal (SB-retinal) at trans-conformation absorbs in the violet region. The rotation of the dihedral angle around the C11=C12 -bond affects the absorption energy of the retinal and the binding energy of the SB-retinal with the proton at the N-Schiff; the binding energy is slightly lower at the trans-SB-retinal than at other conformations of the retinal.

published proceedings

  • J Mol Model

author list (cited authors)

  • Kubli-Garfias, C., Salazar-Salinas, K., Perez-Angel, E. C., & Seminario, J. M.

citation count

  • 12

complete list of authors

  • Kubli-Garfias, Carlos||Salazar-Salinas, Karim||Perez-Angel, Emily C||Seminario, Jorge M

publication date

  • October 2011