We present light harvesting of aqueous colloidal quantum dots to nonradiatively transfer their excitonic excitation energy efficiently to dye molecules in water, without requiring ligand exchange. These as-synthesized CdTe quantum dots that are used as donors to serve as light-harvesting antennas are carefully optimized to match the electronic structure of Rhodamine B molecules used as acceptors for light harvesting in aqueous medium. By varying the acceptor to donor concentration ratio, we measure the light harvesting factor, along with substantial lifetime modifications of these water-soluble quantum dots, from 25.3 ns to 7.2 ns as a result of their energy transfer with efficiency levels up to 86%. Such nonradiative energy transfer mediated light harvesting in aqueous medium holds great promise for future quantum dot multiplexed dye biodetection systems.
(c) 2010 Optical Society of America.