Nanoapertures to enhance energy transfer between molecules
Energy transfer between molecules is promoted when they are set in an environment that confines light
The energy transfer between molecules is an essential phenomenon for photosynthesis, photovoltaics and biotechnology. Now, thanks to the work of the Institut Fresnel Institute, energy transfer between molecules can be controlled and enhanced with optical structures etched at the nanoscale.
Researchers prepared pairs of energy donor and acceptor molecules linked by rigid double stranded DNA. These pairs were then inserted into apertures milled in a gold film with nanoscale dimensions. By accurately measuring the radiation properties of pairs of molecules, the researchers were able to demonstrate that the rate of energy transfer between molecules is 6 times greater when placed in a nanoaperture.
These promising results are clearing a new path to improve the energy transfer process widely used in life sciences and biotechnology. Optical nanostructures open up many potential applications for biosensors, light sources or photovoltaics.
This work has been supported by the European Research Council under ERC Grant 278242.