The fluorescence yield (F) of spinach chloroplasts at 100°K measured at 735 nm (photosystem I fluorescence—F 735) and at 685 nm (photosystem II fluorescence—F 685) has been determined with different modes of laser excitation. The modes of excitation included a single picosecond pulse, sequences of picosecond pulses (4, 22, and 300 pulses spaced 5 ns apart) and a single nonmode-locked 2-μs pulse (MP mode). The F 735/F 685 intensity ratios decrease from 1.62 to 0.61 when a single picosecond pulse (or low-power continuous helium-neon laser) is replaced by excitation with the 300-ps pulse train (PPT mode) or MP mode. In the PPT mode of excitation, the 735-nm fluorescence band is quenched by a factor of 45 as the intensity is increased from 1015 to 1018 photons/cm2 per pulse train and the 685-nm fluorescence is quenched by a factor of 10. In the MP mode, the quenching factors are 25 and 7, respectively, in the same intensity range. Fluorescence quantum yield measurements with different picosecond pulse sequences indicate that relatively long-lived quenching species are operative, which survive from one picosecond pulse to another within the pulse train. The excitonic processes possible in the photosynthetic units are discussed in detail. The differences in the quenching factors between the MP and PPT modes of excitation are attributed to singlet-singlet annihilation, possible when picosecond pulses are utilized, but minimized in the MP mode of excitation. The long-lived quenchers are identified as triplets and/or bulk chlorophyll ions formed by singlet-singlet annihilation. The preferential quenching in photosystem I is attributed to triplet excitons. The influence of heating effects, photochemistry, bleaching, and two-photon processes is also considered and is shown to be negligible.
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