Arranging multiple fluorophores into carefully designed assemblies allows them to engage in directed energy transfer cascades that can span significant portions of both the visible spectrum and nanoscale space. Combining these cascades with the 3-dimensional control of fluorophore placement provided by different types of biological templates, and especially DNA, may allow them to progress from an interesting research platform to enabling new applications. Here, we review the progress in creating such systems based on the diversity of available fluorophores and biological scaffolds. Preliminary work toward targeted applications ranging from optical utility in light harvesting, lasing, molecular computing, optical data storage and encryption to biosensing and photodynamic therapy are discussed. Finally, we provide a perspective on how this unique combination of photonically active biomaterials may transition to concerted applications.

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DOI: 10.1016/j.mattod.2016.09.013