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Research at St Andrews

Time-resolved studies of energy transfer in thin films of green and red fluorescent proteins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Joanna M. Zajac, Marcel Schubert, Thomas Roland, Changmin Keum, Ifor D. W. Samuel, Malte C. Gather

School/Research organisations


Biologically derived fluorescent proteins are attractive candidates for lasing and sensing due to their excellent optical properties, including their high quantum yield, spectral tunability and robustness against concentration quenching. Here, we report a time-resolved study of the fluorescence dynamics of thin films of Enhanced Green Fluorescent Protein (EGFP), the red-emitting tandem-dimer protein tdTomato and blends of EGFP and tdTomato. We characterized the exciton dynamics by using spectrally and time-resolved measurements of fluorescence and observed a threefold reduction in lifetime when going from solution to thin film, down to 1 ns and 0.6 ns for EGFP and tdTomato, respectively. This finding is attributed to a dipole-dipole non-radiative Förster resonant energy transfer (FRET) in solid-state. We also studied the temporal characteristics of FRET in blended thin films and found increased non-radiative transfer rates. Finally, we report efficient sensitisation of a semiconductor surface with a protein thin film. Such a configuration may have important implications for energy harvesting in hybrid organic-inorganic solar cells and other hybrid optoelectronic devices.


Original languageEnglish
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
VolumeEarly View
Early online date15 Jan 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Jan 2018

    Research areas

  • Photoluminescence, Protein, Time correlated single-photon counting, Streak camera measurements, Energy transfer, Fluorescent proteins

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