Scope of the conference

During the years 1946 to 1948, Theodor Förster published papers in Naturwissenschaften and Annalen der Physik outlining the quantum-mechanical behaviour of the transfer of electronic excitation energy between two molecules in a solution. Förster's breakthrough work in spectroscopy was built upon the earlier theories of J. and F. Perrin, and explained the transfer of energy between two molecules nonradiatively. Förster’s contribution, FRET, is an acronym for Förster resonance energy transfer or fluorescence resonance energy transfer. Equations determined by Förster were the basis to interpret FRET results quantitatively in terms of parameters that can be derived experimentally. FRET is a common and fundamental photophysical process in life and materials sciences. After absorption of light, intrachromophore processes, such as radiative decay (e.g., fluorescence, phosphorescence) and radiationless transitions (e.g., internal conversion, intersystem crossing), dissipate the absorbed energy. FRET is an interchromophore relaxation process that transmits the electronic excitation from an initially excited donor to a ground-state acceptor chromophore.

While resonance energy transfer was first observed in fluorescence polarization studies in the 1920s, interest in FRET was limited to understanding the concentration dependence of fluorescence depolarization. The intention of Förster's papers was to describe energy migration in molecular crystals and during photosynthesis in plants more quantitatively. Now, after decades as a chemical curiosity, numerous manifestations and uses of FRET have been described. Some notable examples include light harvesting in photosynthesis, design of high performance sensors, labelling, structure determination, photoprotection and its use to detect biomolecular interactions in life sciences. The number of citations using FRET has increased almost 300 fold over the past 20 years.



Studying Förster's CV it becomes immediately apparent that his time in Göttingen (1946-1951) was very important. During his time in Göttingen he published his most well known papers and the book Die Fluoreszenz organischer Verbindungen (Vandenhoek & Ruprecht, Göttingen, 1951). He established himself as a group leader at the Max-Planck-Institut für physikalische Chemie in Göttingen, founded 1949 to replace the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Instituts für physikalische Chemie and Elektrochemie in Berlin. In 1951 Förster took up an appointment as  Professor of Physical Chemistry at the Technical University of Stuttgart. He and his coworkers continued to develop revolutionary concepts to interpret photochemical reactions in terms of physical principles (e.g. proteolytic reactions in the photoexcited state (Förster Cycle), adiabatic photochemical reactions (excimers and exciplexes), photo-induced electron transfer reactions). In this way Förster and his school established an important basis for the success of photophysics and photochemistry, which goes for beyond FRET. You can find more information on Theodor Förster and FRET by clicking here.

On occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth and 65 years after his first publication on resonance energy transfer we want to honor Prof. Theodor Förster's achievements by celebrating FRET as one part of his rich scientific legacy at its original site.

You are highly welcome to join our discussion meeting!