Physics

Don't FRET—All Under Control

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Science  30 Nov 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6111, pp. 1128
DOI: 10.1126/science.338.6111.1128-c

In photosensitive biological or chemical processes involving energy harvesting, such as photosynthesis, photons are absorbed by one molecule and the associated energy is transferred to another (or series of others) through a resonant process called Förster resonance energy transfer, or FRET. With the development of organic electronics, debate has surrounded the question of whether such systems can be designed to control the energy transfer process. Blum et al. conducted a systematic study of the FRET process involving two molecules (an acceptor and donor) bridged by a DNA chain that precisely established the separation distance. They altered the local optical environment by placing the molecules in the vicinity of a mirror and controlling that separation. Their main finding is that although the rate of energy transfer between the molecules is independent of what is done to the optical environment, the efficiency of that energy transfer process is sensitive. Such nanophotonic control might find practical applications in designing better artificial molecular-based electronic energy-harvesting or lighting devices.

Phys. Rev. Lett. 109, 203601 (2012).

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