Abstract

We quantify and ascertain the nature of the second-harmonic generation (SHG) response of amphiphilic push–pull chromophores to a transmembrane electric field. Our technique is based on the application of an alternating field across labeled giant unilamelar vesicles. For chromophore responses that are purely electro-optic, our technique provides an estimate of photoinduced charge shifts based on the observed dispersion of the field response, in accord with a two-level perturbation theory. These results are applicable to the optimization of membrane potential sensors for SHG microscopy.

© 2003 Optical Society of America

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