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Two-photon fluorescence and second-harmonic generation microscopy applied to orientational monitoring of molecules

V. Le Floc'h, S .Brasselet, J.F. Roch, and J. Zyss, J. Phys. Chem. B 107 12403-12410 (2003)

We present high resolution two-photon excitation microscopy studies combining two-photon fluorescence (TPF) and second harmonic generation (SHG) in order to probe orientational distributions of molecular ensembles at room temperature. A detailed polarization analysis of TPF and SHG signals is used in order to unravel the parameters of the molecular orientational statistical distribution, using a technique which can be extended and generalized to a broad variety of molecular arrangements. A polymer film containing molecules active for TPF and/or SHG emission is studied as a model system. Polarized TPF is shown to provide information on specific properties pertaining to incoherent emission in molecular media, such as excitation transfer. SHG, being highly sensitive to a slight departure from centrosymmetry such as induced by an external electric field in the medium, complements TPF. The response of each signal to a variable excitation polarization allows investigation of molecular behavior in complex environments which affect their orientations and interactions.

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