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1.  Optical near-fields & nearfield optics 
PMCID: PMC3943496  PMID: 24605284
2.  Nanophotonics, nano-optics and nanospectroscopy 
PMCID: PMC3190619  PMID: 22003455
nano-optics; nanophotonics; nanospectroscopy
3.  Room temperature excitation spectroscopy of single quantum dots 
We report a single molecule detection scheme to investigate excitation spectra of single emitters at room temperature. We demonstrate the potential of single emitter photoluminescence excitation spectroscopy by recording excitation spectra of single CdSe nanocrystals over a wide spectral range of 100 nm. The spectra exhibit emission intermittency, characteristic of single emitters. We observe large variations in the spectra close to the band edge, which represent the individual heterogeneity of the observed quantum dots. We also find specific excitation wavelengths for which the single quantum dots analyzed show an increased propensity for a transition to a long-lived dark state. We expect that the additional capability of recording excitation spectra at room temperature from single emitters will enable insights into the photophysics of emitters that so far have remained inaccessible.
PMCID: PMC3190622  PMID: 22003458
blinking; excitation spectrum; quantum dots; single molecule spectroscopy; supercontinuum laser
4.  Photosynthesis in a different light: spectro-microscopy for in vivo characterization of chloroplasts 
During photosynthesis, energy conversion at the two photosystems is controlled by highly complex and dynamic adaptation processes triggered by external factors such as light quality, intensity, and duration, or internal cues such as carbon availability. These dynamics have remained largely concealed so far, because current analytical techniques are based on the investigation of isolated chloroplasts lacking full adaptation ability and are performed at non-physiologically low temperatures. Here, we use non-invasive in planta spectro-microscopic approaches to investigate living chloroplasts in their native environment at ambient temperatures. This is a valuable approach to study the complex function of these systems, because an intrinsic property—the fluorescence emission—is exploited and no additional external perturbations are introduced. Our analysis demonstrates a dynamic adjustment of not only the photosystemI/photosystemII (PSI/PSII) intensity ratio in the chloroplasts but also of the capacity of the LHCs for energy transfer in response to environmental and internal cues.
PMCID: PMC4082301  PMID: 25071790
fluorescence; spectroscopy; photochemistry; chloroplast; photosystem; spectromicroscopy
5.  Plasmonic oligomers in cylindrical vector light beams 
We investigate the excitation as well as propagation of magnetic modes in plasmonic nanostructures. Such structures are particularly suited for excitation with cylindrical vector beams. We study magneto-inductive coupling between adjacent nanostructures. We utilize high-resolution lithographic techniques for the preparation of complex nanostructures consisting of gold as well as aluminium. These structures are subsequently characterized by linear optical spectroscopy. The well characterized and designed structures are afterwards studied in depth by exciting them with radial and azimuthally polarized light and simultaneously measuring their plasmonic near-field behavior. Additionally, we attempt to model and simulate our results, a project which has, to the best of our knowledge, not been attempted so far.
PMCID: PMC3566857  PMID: 23400561
near-field microscopy; oligomers; plasmons; radial and azimuthal polarization
6.  Assessing the plasmonics of gold nano-triangles with higher order laser modes 
Regular arrays of metallic nano-triangles – so called Fischer patterns – are fabricated by nano-sphere lithography. We studied such gold nano-triangle arrays on silicon or glass substrates. A series of different samples was investigated with a parabolic mirror based confocal microscope where the sample is scanned through the laser focus. By employing higher order laser modes (azimuthally and radially polarised laser beams), we can excite the Fischer patterns using either a pure in-plane (x,y) electric field or a strongly z-directional (optical axis of the optical microscope) electric field. We collected and evaluated the emitted luminescence and thereby investigated the respectively excited plasmonic modes. These varied considerably: firstly with the light polarisation in the focus, secondly with the aspect ratio of the triangles and thirdly with the employed substrate. Moreover, we obtained strongly enhanced Raman spectra of an adenine (sub-)monolayer on gold Fischer patterns on glass. We thus showed that gold Fischer patterns are promising surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) substrates.
PMCID: PMC3512117  PMID: 23213631
Fischer pattern; higher order laser modes; localised surface plasmons; near field; surface-enhanced Raman scattering
7.  Novel Application of Fluorescence Lifetime and Fluorescence Microscopy Enables Quantitative Access to Subcellular Dynamics in Plant Cells 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(5):e5716.
Optical and spectroscopic technologies working at subcellular resolution with quantitative output are required for a deeper understanding of molecular processes and mechanisms in living cells. Such technologies are prerequisite for the realisation of predictive biology at cellular and subcellular level. However, although established in the physical sciences, these techniques are rarely applied to cell biology in the plant sciences.
Principal Findings
Here, we present a combined application of one-chromophore fluorescence lifetime microscopy and wavelength-selective fluorescence microscopy to analyse the function of a GFP fusion of the Brassinosteroid Insensitive 1 Receptor (BRI1-GFP) with high spatial and temporal resolution in living Arabidopsis cells in their tissue environment. We show a rapid, brassinolide-induced cell wall expansion and a fast BR-regulated change in the BRI1-GFP fluorescence lifetime in the plasmamembrane in vivo. Both cell wall expansion and changes in fluorescence lifetime reflect early BR-induced and BRI1-dependent physiological or signalling processes. Our experiments also show the potential of one-chromophore fluorescence lifetime microscopy for the in vivo monitoring of the biochemical and biophysical subcellular environment using GFP fusion proteins as probes.
One-chromophore fluorescence lifetime microscopy, combined with wavelength-specific fluorescence microscopy, opens up new frontiers for in vivo dynamic and quantitative analysis of cellular processes at high resolution which are not addressable by pure imaging technologies or transmission electron microscopy.
PMCID: PMC2683565  PMID: 19492078
8.  Red fluorescence in reef fish: A novel signalling mechanism? 
BMC Ecology  2008;8:16.
At depths below 10 m, reefs are dominated by blue-green light because seawater selectively absorbs the longer, 'red' wavelengths beyond 600 nm from the downwelling sunlight. Consequently, the visual pigments of many reef fish are matched to shorter wavelengths, which are transmitted better by water. Combining the typically poor long-wavelength sensitivity of fish eyes with the presumed lack of ambient red light, red light is currently considered irrelevant for reef fish. However, previous studies ignore the fact that several marine organisms, including deep sea fish, produce their own red luminescence and are capable of seeing it.
We here report that at least 32 reef fishes from 16 genera and 5 families show pronounced red fluorescence under natural, daytime conditions at depths where downwelling red light is virtually absent. Fluorescence was confirmed by extensive spectrometry in the laboratory. In most cases peak emission was around 600 nm and fluorescence was associated with guanine crystals, which thus far were known for their light reflecting properties only. Our data indicate that red fluorescence may function in a context of intraspecific communication. Fluorescence patterns were typically associated with the eyes or the head, varying substantially even between species of the same genus. Moreover red fluorescence was particularly strong in fins that are involved in intraspecific signalling. Finally, microspectrometry in one fluorescent goby, Eviota pellucida, showed a long-wave sensitivity that overlapped with its own red fluorescence, indicating that this species is capable of seeing its own fluorescence.
We show that red fluorescence is widespread among marine fishes. Many features indicate that it is used as a private communication mechanism in small, benthic, pair- or group-living fishes. Many of these species show quite cryptic colouration in other parts of the visible spectrum. High inter-specific variation in red fluorescence and its association with structures used in intra-specific signalling further corroborate this view. Our findings challenge the notion that red light is of no importance to marine fish, calling for a reassessment of its role in fish visual ecology in subsurface marine environments.
PMCID: PMC2567963  PMID: 18796150
9.  The Histidine Kinase AHK5 Integrates Endogenous and Environmental Signals in Arabidopsis Guard Cells 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(6):e2491.
Stomatal guard cells monitor and respond to environmental and endogenous signals such that the stomatal aperture is continually optimised for water use efficiency. A key signalling molecule produced in guard cells in response to plant hormones, light, carbon dioxide and pathogen-derived signals is hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). The mechanisms by which H2O2 integrates multiple signals via specific signalling pathways leading to stomatal closure is not known.
Principal Findings
Here, we identify a pathway by which H2O2, derived from endogenous and environmental stimuli, is sensed and transduced to effect stomatal closure. Histidine kinases (HK) are part of two-component signal transduction systems that act to integrate environmental stimuli into a cellular response via a phosphotransfer relay mechanism. There is little known about the function of the HK AHK5 in Arabidopsis thaliana. Here we report that in addition to the predicted cytoplasmic localisation of this protein, AHK5 also appears to co-localise to the plasma membrane. Although AHK5 is expressed at low levels in guard cells, we identify a unique role for AHK5 in stomatal signalling. Arabidopsis mutants lacking AHK5 show reduced stomatal closure in response to H2O2, which is reversed by complementation with the wild type gene. Over-expression of AHK5 results in constitutively less stomatal closure. Abiotic stimuli that generate endogenous H2O2, such as darkness, nitric oxide and the phytohormone ethylene, also show reduced stomatal closure in the ahk5 mutants. However, ABA caused closure, dark adaptation induced H2O2 production and H2O2 induced NO synthesis in mutants. Treatment with the bacterial pathogen associated molecular pattern (PAMP) flagellin, but not elf peptide, also exhibited reduced stomatal closure and H2O2 generation in ahk5 mutants.
Our findings identify an integral signalling function for AHK5 that acts to integrate multiple signals via H2O2 homeostasis and is independent of ABA signalling in guard cells.
PMCID: PMC2424244  PMID: 18560512

Results 1-9 (9)