The simultaneous excitation of paramagnetic molecules with optical (laser) and microwave radiation in the presence of a magnetic field can cause an amplitude, or phase, modulation of the transmitted light at the microwave frequency. The detection of this modulation indicates the presence of coupled optical and ESR transitions. The phenomenon can be viewed as a coherent Raman effect or, in most cases, as a microwave frequency modulation of the magnetic circular dichroism by the precessing magnetization. By allowing the optical and magnetic properties of a transition metal ion centre to be correlated, it becomes possible to deconvolute the overlapping optical or ESR spectra of multiple centres in a protein or of multiple chemical forms of a particular centre. The same correlation capability also allows the relative orientation of the magnetic and optical anisotropies of each species to be measured, even when the species cannot be obtained in a crystalline form. Such measurements provide constraints on electronic structure calculations. The capabilities of the method are illustrated by data from the dimeric mixed-valence CuA centre of nitrous oxide reductase (N2OR) from Paracoccus pantotrophus.

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