A synthetic molecular triad consisting of a porphyrin P linked to both a quinone Q and a carotenoid polyene C has been prepared as a mimic of natural photosynthesis for solar energy conversion purposes. Laser flash excitation of the porphyrin moiety yields a charge-separated state C+·-P-Q-· within 100 ps with a quantum yield of more than 0.25. This charge-separated state has a lifetime on the microsecond time scale in suitable solvents. The triad also models photosynthetic antenna function and photo-protection from singlet oxygen damage. The successful biomimicry of photo-synthetic charge separation is in part the result of multistep electron transfers which rapidly separate the charges and leave the system at high potential, but with a considerable barrier to recombination.