Strong antenna-enhanced fluorescence of a single light-harvesting complex shows photon anti-bunching

E. Wientjes, J. Renger, A.G. Curto, R. Cogdell, N.F. van Hulst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)


The nature of the highly efficient energy transfer in photosynthetic light-harvesting complexes is a subject of intense research. Unfortunately, the low fluorescence efficiency and limited photostability hampers the study of individual light-harvesting complexes at ambient conditions. Here we demonstrate an over 500-fold fluorescence enhancement of lightharvesting complex 2 (LH2) at the single-molecule level by coupling to a gold nanoantenna. The resonant antenna produces an excitation enhancement of circa 100 times and a fluorescence lifetime shortening to B20 ps. The radiative rate enhancement results in a 5.5-fold-improved fluorescence quantum efficiency. Exploiting the unique brightness, we have recorded the first photon antibunching of a single light-harvesting complex under ambient conditions, showing that the 27 bacteriochlorophylls coordinated by LH2 act as a nonclassical single-photon emitter. The presented bright antenna-enhanced LH2 emission is a highly promising system to study energy transfer and the role of quantum coherence at the level of single complexes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4236
Number of pages7
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • pigment-protein complexes
  • purple bacterial lh2
  • exciton delocalization
  • molecule fluorescence
  • energy-transfer
  • optical antennas
  • nanoantennas
  • dynamics
  • spectroscopy
  • dna


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