Nanoscopic optical rulers beyond the FRET distance limit: Fundamentals and applications

Paresh Chandra Ray*, Zhen Fan, Rebecca A. Crouch, Sudarson Sekhar Sinha, Avijit Pramanik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In the last few decades, Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) based spectroscopy rulers have served as a key tool for the understanding of chemical and biochemical processes, even at the single molecule level. Since the FRET process originates from dipole-dipole interactions, the length scale of a FRET ruler is limited to a maximum of 10 nm. Recently, scientists have reported a nanomaterial based long-range optical ruler, where one can overcome the FRET optical ruler distance dependence limit, and which can be very useful for monitoring biological processes that occur across a greater distance than the 10 nm scale. Advancement of nanoscopic long range optical rulers in the last ten years indicate that, in addition to their long-range capability, their brightness, long lifetime, lack of blinking, and chemical stability make nanoparticle based rulers a good choice for long range optical probes. The current review discusses the basic concepts and unique light-focusing properties of plasmonic nanoparticles which are useful in the development of long range one dimensional to three dimensional optical rulers. In addition, to provide the readers with an overview of the exciting opportunities within this field, this review discusses the applications of long range rulers for monitoring biological and chemical processes. At the end, we conclude by speculating on the role of long range optical rulers in future scientific research and discuss possible problems, outlooks and future needs in the use of optical rulers for technological applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6370-6404
Number of pages35
JournalChemical Society Reviews
Issue number17
StatePublished - 7 Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Nanoscopic optical rulers beyond the FRET distance limit: Fundamentals and applications'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this