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chromatophore membrane

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Atomic force microscopy (AFM) gives us a low-resolution glimpse of life at the nanometer scale. Now scientists can bring microscopy images to life by combining the microscopy data with atomic-detail structures to re-create the imaged system on the computer. As recently reported, Center scientists constructed an atomic-resolution model of a photosynthetic membrane based on AFM data showing the locations of the many light-harvesting proteins that inhabit the membrane. After using NAMD on petascale computers, like Blue Waters and Titan, to relax the 20-million atom membrane, Center scientists used the model to study the migration of energy among the light-harvesting complexes, as well as the mobility of quinone molecules in the membrane. The photosynthetic membrane patch was found to have a very high (90%) light-harvesting efficiency; further, it was found that the light-harvesting proteins could be considerably less tightly packed in the membrane with minimal loss of efficiency. Read more on our website.