Quantum Dot Photon Statistics

We present an instrument for performing correlation spectroscopy on single fluorescent particles while tracking their Brownian motion in three dimensions using real-time feedback. By tracking CdSe/ZnS quantum dots in water (diffusion coefficient 20 ím2/s), we make the first measurements of photon antibunching (at 10 ns) on single fluorophores free in solution and find fluorescence lifetime heterogeneity within a quantum dot sample. In addition, we show that 2-mercaptoethanol suppresses short time-scale intermittency (1 ms to 1 s) in quantum dot fluorescence by reducing time spent in the off-state.