FRET Visualizer

An interactive tool for visualizing the physics of Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET).


When dealing with Förster Resonance Energy Transfer, often the physics around the orientation factor, κ2, is misunderstood. This leads to most people following the advice of Yang (2010) and estimating it as 2/3, accepting a relative error of up to 10%. This can lead to larger errors if these calculations are used in later copmutations. For example, a research group out of Duke University explored the idea of using FRET calculations to create logic gates for a light-based computer. Only by understanding the orientation factor correctly would they be able make computations accurately.

To help alleviate this issue, I built a tool that allows the user to visualize how the orientation factor affects the efficiency of energy transfer and the probability distribution relating to the orientation of chromophores involved.

What it does

This tool allows the user to change variables relating to the two chromophores involved in Förster Resonance Energy Transfer and see the resultant geometry / probability distributions as well as the efficiency of energy transfer.

How I built it

Mathematica has a range of tools that make it really easy to make and deploy interactive visualizations. At the time of making this, Mathematica was my primary programming language.

Challenges I ran into

Being in high school when I first made this, I didn't really know anything about the messy math or physics needed. I've since learned, but now I rarely need it. Weird how things work out.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

I actually came to understand the research during my time working on this project and it's stuck with me many years (5 years at the time of writing!) later.

What I learned

A lot of physics that I knew nothing about before. And that Mathematica makes it extremely easy to make demos for just about anything.

What's next for FRET

Nothing! This project was a long time ago. If anyone wants me to get the tools back up and running again, email me at