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Single Molecule Probes



Lori S. Goldner, K D. Weston, W F. Heinz, Jeeseong Hwang, E S. DeJong, John P. Marino


The technology to rapidly manipulate and screen individual molecules lies at the frontier of measurement science and impacts emerging bio- and nano-technologies. Fundamental biological and chemical processes can now be probed with unprecedented detail, one molecule at a time. These single molecule probes are most often fluorescent dye molecules embedded in a material or attached to a target molecule, such as a protein or nucleic acid, whose behavior is under study. The fluorescence from a single dye molecule can be detected, its spectrum and lifetime measured and its absorption or emission dipole determined. From this information, the rotational and translational dynamics of the fluorophore can be calculated, as can details of its photophysics. To the extent that these properties reflect the properties of the target molecule, we can use these fluorescent tags to probe the dynamics and structure of the target. We discuss the dependence of the physical and photophysical dynamics of fluorescent molecules on their local environment and we use confocal microscopy to study single molecules in thin films, on surfaces, and in various liquid and gaseous environments.
Proceedings Title
Harnessing Light: Optical Science and Metrology at NIST
Conference Dates
August 1-2, 2001
Conference Title
Proceedings of the SPIE


confocal microscopy, fluorescence, fluorescence lifetime, polarization, RNA, rotational dynamics, single molecule


Goldner, L. , Weston, K. , Heinz, W. , Hwang, J. , DeJong, E. and Marino, J. (2001), Single Molecule Probes, Harnessing Light: Optical Science and Metrology at NIST (Accessed July 22, 2024)


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Created August 1, 2001, Updated February 17, 2017