Microtubules and actin filaments are protein polymers that play a variety of energy conversion roles in the biological cell. While these polymers are being increasingly harnessed for mechanochemical roles both inside and outside physiological conditions, their capabilities for photonic energy conversion are not well understood. In this Perspective, we first introduce the reader to the photophysical properties of protein polymers, examining light harvesting by their constituent aromatic residues. We then discuss both the opportunities and the challenges in interfacing protein biochemistry with photophysics. We also review the literature reporting the response of microtubules and actin filaments to infrared light, illustrating the potential of these polymers to these polymers serve as targets for photobiomodulation. Finally, we present broad challenges and questions in the field of protein biophotonics. Understanding how protein polymers interact with light will pioneer both biohybrid device fabrication and light-based therapeutics.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry