Can nanophotonics control the Förster resonance energy transfer efficiency?

C. Blum, N. Zijlstra, A. Lagendijk, Martijn Wubs, A. P. Mosk, V. Subramaniam, W. L. Vos

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


Summary form only given. Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) is the dominant nonradiative energy transfer mechanism between a donor and acceptor fluorophore in nanometer proximity. FRET plays a pivotal role in the photosynthetic apparatus of plants and bacteria and many applications, ranging from photovoltaics and lighting, to probing molecular distances and interactions.It is an intriguing open question whether the FRET rate γFRET and the energy transfer efficiency ηFRET can also be controlled by the nanoscale optical environment, characterized by the local density of optical states (LDOS) [1]. Pioneering work suggested that the transfer rate depends linearly on the LDOS at the donor emission frequency [2], while later work suggested a dependence on the LDOS squared [3], or even a transfer rate independent of the LDOS [4]. We study the influence of the LDOS on Förster transfer, using precisely-defined, isolated, and efficient donor-acceptor pairs. The FRET pairs are dye molecules that covalently bound to the opposite ends of a 15 basepair long double-stranded with a precisely defined distance of 6.8 nm. Control over the LDOS is realized by positioning the FRET systems at well-defined distances (ranging from 60 nm to 270 nm) from a metallic mirror. The energy transfer rate γFRET and efficiency ηFRET are obtained by measuring the donor emission rate γDA in presence and the rate γD in absence of the acceptor using time-correlated single-photon counting based lifetime imaging. Our data unequivocally show that the FRET rate is independent of the LDOS at donor emission frequencies, consistent with quantum-optical theory. The FRET efficiency clearly changes with LDOS [5], since the LDOS alters the competition between the different decay processes. By controlling the radiative decay rate of the energy donor by the LDOS, the energy transfer efficiency can be enhanced or reduced. If a donor with unit quantum efficiency is placed in a 3D photonic bandgap, the energy transfer efficiency will approach 100 %, independent of the acceptor, and of the distances and orientations between the FRET partners.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of CLEO Europe 2013
Number of pages1
Publication date2013
ISBN (Print)978-1-4799-0593-5
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventConference on Lasers and Electro-Optics Europe 2013 (CLEO Europe): International Quantum Electronics Conference (IQEC) - Münich, Germany
Duration: 12 May 201316 May 2013


ConferenceConference on Lasers and Electro-Optics Europe 2013 (CLEO Europe)


  • biochemistry
  • dyes
  • microorganisms
  • mirrors
  • molecular biophysics
  • nanophotonics
  • photon counting
  • photonic band gap
  • photosynthesis
  • Aerospace
  • Bioengineering
  • Communication, Networking and Broadcast Technologies
  • Components, Circuits, Devices and Systems
  • Engineered Materials, Dielectrics and Plasmas
  • Engineering Profession
  • Fields, Waves and Electromagnetics
  • General Topics for Engineers
  • Nuclear Engineering
  • Photonics and Electrooptics
  • Power, Energy and Industry Applications
  • distance 6.0E-08 2.7E-07 m
  • distance 6.8E-09 m
  • 3D photonic bandgap
  • acceptor fluorophore
  • bacteria
  • basepair long double-stranded molecules
  • decay processes
  • distance 6.8 nm
  • distance 60 nm to 270 nm
  • donor emission frequencies
  • donor emission frequency
  • donor emission rate
  • donor fluorophore
  • donor-acceptor pairs
  • dye molecules
  • Educational institutions
  • energy donor
  • Energy exchange
  • energy transfer rate
  • Forster resonance energy transfer efficiency
  • FRET efficiency
  • FRET pairs
  • FRET partners
  • FRET rate
  • FRET systems
  • LDOS
  • lifetime imaging
  • lighting
  • local density of optical states
  • metallic mirror
  • molecular distances
  • molecular interactions
  • nanometer proximity
  • Nanophotonics
  • nanoscale optical environment
  • nonradiative energy transfer mechanism
  • Optical imaging
  • photosynthetic apparatus
  • photovoltaics
  • plants
  • quantum-optical theory
  • radiative decay rate
  • Stimulated emission
  • time-correlated single-photon counting
  • unit quantum efficiency

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