Encyclopedia of Biophysics

Living Edition
| Editors: Gordon Roberts, Anthony Watts, European Biophysical Societies

Single Fluorophore Blinking

  • Qinsi Zheng
  • Avik Kumar Pati
  • Scott C. BlanchardEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-35943-9_483-1



Light-emitting species, including organic dye molecules, fluorescent proteins, and semiconductor particles, are prone to enter transient dark states. At the ensemble scale, reversibly entry and exit from dark states, referred to as “blinking” events, lower fluorophore brightness and thus effective quantum yield and typically result in photo-induced reactions with solvent. Depending on the nature of the fluorophore species, the illumination source, and intensity, as well as the environmental conditions, blinking events can range from rare to frequent and last from microseconds to minutes. Blinking events are distinguished from photobleaching, the irreversible loss of fluorescence, by their temporary nature.

Temporary dark states can arise for a variety of reasons. In the case of organic fluorophores, transient dark states may occur due to reversible isomerization of the conjugated π orbital system, resulting in...

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Copyright information

© European Biophysical Societies' Association (EBSA) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qinsi Zheng
    • 1
  • Avik Kumar Pati
    • 2
  • Scott C. Blanchard
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Tri-Institutional Program in Chemical BiologyWeill Cornell MedicineNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Physiology and BiophysicsWeill Cornell MedicineNew YorkUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Nils G. Walter
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ChemistryThe University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA