Probing Bioluminescence Resonance Energy Transfer in Quantum Rod-Luciferase Nanoconjugates

Rabeka Alam, Liliana M. Karam, Tennyson L. Doane, Kaitlin Coopersmith, Danielle M. Fontaine, Bruce R. Branchini, Mathew M. Maye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


We describe the necessary design criteria to create highly efficient energy transfer conjugates containing luciferase enzymes derived from Photinus pyralis (Ppy) and semiconductor quantum rods (QRs) with rod-in-rod (r/r) microstructure. By fine-tuning the synthetic conditions, CdSe/CdS r/r-QRs were prepared with two different emission colors and three different aspect ratios (l/w) each. These were hybridized with blue, green, and red emitting Ppy, leading to a number of new BRET nanoconjugates. Measurements of the emission BRET ratio (BR) indicate that the resulting energy transfer is highly dependent on QR energy accepting properties, which include absorption, quantum yield, and optical anisotropy, as well as its morphological and topological properties, such as aspect ratio and defect concentration. The highest BR was found using r/r-QRs with lower l/w that were conjugated with red Ppy, which may be activating one of the anisotropic CdSe core energy levels. The role QR surface defects play on Ppy binding, and energy transfer was studied by growth of gold nanoparticles at the defects, which indicated that each QR set has different sites. The Ppy binding at those sites is suggested by the observed BRET red-shift as a function of Ppy-to-QR loading (L), where the lowest L results in highest efficiency and furthest shift.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1969-1977
Number of pages9
JournalACS nano
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 23 2016


  • BRET
  • FRET
  • bioluminescence
  • biotic/abiotic
  • energy transfer
  • luciferase
  • nanoconjugate
  • polarization
  • quantum rods
  • rod-in-rod

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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