Date Published:2007 Mar 15
Photoinduced molecular transformations in a self-assembled bacteriorhodopsin (bR) monolayer are monitored by observing shifts in the near-infrared resonant wavelengths of linearly polarized modes circulating in a microsphere cavity. We quantify the molecular polarizability change upon all-trans to 13-cis isomerization and deprotonation of the chromophore retinal ( approximately -57 A(3)) and determine its orientation relative to the bR membrane ( approximately 61 degrees ). Our observations establish optical microcavities as a sensitive off-resonant spectroscopic tool for probing conformations and orientations of molecular self-assemblies and for measuring changes of molecular polarizability at optical frequencies. We provide a general estimate of the sensitivity of the technique and discuss possible applications.