Photosynthesis study uses on-demand pump-probe ultrafast laser microscopy setup

Feb. 19, 2014
East Lansing, MI--ICFO researchers are studying photosynthesis at the level of single molecules using MIIPS laser pulse characterization, shaping, and compression technology from Biophotonic Solutions.

East Lansing, MI--Researchers at ICFOthe Institute of Photonic Sciencesin Barcelona, Spain are studying photosynthesis at the level of single molecules using MIIPS laser pulse characterization, shaping, and compression technology from Biophotonic Solutions (BSI) in a laser microscopy setup. The researchers observed energy transfer in single light-harvesting complexes, laying groundwork for understanding the role of quantum physics in nature's highly efficient and robust photosynthetic processes.

During photosynthesis in a plant or other organism, sunlight is absorbed by light-harvesting pigment-protein antenna complexes, which funnel it to a reaction center where it is converted to chemical energy. In the ICFO experiments, the researchers isolated individual antenna complexes of a purple bacterium, and then used femtosecond pump-probe laser microscopy to demonstrate and observe the ultrafast quantum mechanical dynamics behind the energy transfer.

The researchers incorporated a customized BSI "MIIPS Box 640" pulse shaping instrument into their single-beam, two-color, femtosecond-scale pump-probe laser microscopy setup. This allowed them to instantly characterize and compress the pump and probe pulses to just 15 fs without having to engineer a significantly more complex laser setup. The shaper controlled the delay and relative phase between pump and probe pulses with attosecond resolution. A MIIPS Box 640 provides automated ultrafast laser pulse measurement, compression, and shaping in real time, delivering optimized laser pulses at the focal plane on demand.

"Niek van Hulst's research group at ICFO is at the forefront of light harvesting research and we're excited that BSI's technology could play a role in their experiments to explore quantum mechanics in biology," said Kiyomi Monro, BSI CEO. "MIIPS is a unique tool for ultrafast laser users who need consistent femtosecond-range pulses very specifically tailored to their application and available on demand. We are proud to have contributed to this important project at ICFO and to other leading-edge experiments at prominent institutes around the world."

Complete details are available in a Science paper entitled "Quantum Coherent Energy Transfer over Varying Pathways in Single Light-Harvesting Complexes."

SOURCE: Biophotonic Solutions; http://www.biophotonicsolutions.com

About the Author

Gail Overton | Senior Editor (2004-2020)

Gail has more than 30 years of engineering, marketing, product management, and editorial experience in the photonics and optical communications industry. Before joining the staff at Laser Focus World in 2004, she held many product management and product marketing roles in the fiber-optics industry, most notably at Hughes (El Segundo, CA), GTE Labs (Waltham, MA), Corning (Corning, NY), Photon Kinetics (Beaverton, OR), and Newport Corporation (Irvine, CA). During her marketing career, Gail published articles in WDM Solutions and Sensors magazine and traveled internationally to conduct product and sales training. Gail received her BS degree in physics, with an emphasis in optics, from San Diego State University in San Diego, CA in May 1986.

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