The combination of optical tweezers force microscopy and single molecule fluorescence has previously been complicated by trap-induced photobleaching. Recent studies have suggested that this effect is caused by a sequential absorption of photons, leading to ionization of the fluorescent singlet state. In this work, we show the range of effects of optical trapping radiation on common fluorescent dyes. Using the interlaced optical force fluorescence (IOFF) laser modulation technique, we show that the removal of simultaneous near infrared radiation dramatically reduces photobleaching effects. However, these studies show that the sequential addition of near infrared radiation in some cases extends photobleaching longevity beyond the natural intrinsic decay. We suggest a refined photoelectronic mechanism that accounts for the possibility of reverse intersystem crossing from a reactive triplet state and explains the nature of trap-induced photobleaching.
Keywords: Single-molecule fluorescence, optical tweezers, biophysics, force-fluorescence microscopy, photobleaching
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