Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Sensitive Intra-Cavity Biosensing Using Energy Transfer

Technology #4778


Optofluidic lasers bring together nanophotonics and microfluidics and have been envisioned as sensitive biological and chemical sensors. Currently, they are limited by the laser wavelength, which must match that of the absorption wavelength of the dyes used. Energy transfer optofluidic lasers are far more efficient, but only a handful of them have been successfully demonstrated thus far. These devices are difficult to control due to a lack of understanding of the underlying mechanism, a lack of precise control over the electron donors and acceptors, and a lack of efficient energy transfer within the dyes used.


University of Michigan researchers have designed a bio-inspired optofluidic dye laser out of DNA scaffolds. Donors and acceptors are attached to individual DNA elements, allowing the researchers to maintain an optimal distance, ratio, and configuration for lasing. They reported an extremely efficient energy transfer (nearly 100%) even when using an unusually low acceptor concentration (2.5M) as compared to other optofluidic dye lasers reported in the literature.

Applications and Advantages


  • Harvesting energy using proteins and enzymes
  • Building sensitive biological and chemical sensors


  • Low acceptor concentration needed
  • Very efficient energy transfer