Progress on Single Molecule Dye Fading Project

What I have been doing this summer has been very different than what I initially expected. I started the summer attempting to study the photochemistry dye molecules in oil environments. Then, on the second day Dr. Wustholz asks my partner and I to perform some single molecule studies of alizarin dye our fancy new laser. We are hoping that the higher energy of this laser will allow us to observe some unique photochemistry that could not occur with our 532 nm laser. The data we collect might be the missing link for publishing a paper.

Now this was supposed to be an easy experiment. All we were doing was recreating old experiments with our new laser. However, this side project soon became our main project and ended up consuming all our research for the summer. It just was not as easy as we thought it would be.  One of the main problems we have had is trying to find the optimal power for our experiment. If we raise the power too much we can photobleach our molecules but if we set it too low, the fluorescence won’t be sensitive enough for our detector. Another problem is inconsistency in the number of molecules that appear on our scans. Sometimes, we have multiple molecules in one scan image and sometimes there are none at all. Overall, we working hard to create reproducible single molecule scans; hopefully we will get there soon.