Research, AG Heyn

Our main interest is in the mechanism of signal- and energy transduction in light-driven biological systems. Currently we study the activation of the following photoreceptors:

-         rhodopsin, the visual pigment of vertebrates,

-         phytochrome, the receptor of plants responsible for photomorphogenesis,

-         photoactive yellow protein, a bacterial blue-light receptor for phototaxis.

These photoreceptors share a common mechanism. Rapid photoisomerization around a specific double bond of the chromophore (photoswitch) is followed by slower thermal relaxations and protonation changes, leading to the formation of a longliving signaling state of different structure.

Light-energy transduction is investigated in

-         bacteriorhodopsin, the light-driven proton pump of Halobacteria.

Details of these projects may be found under current research projects.


We use a broad spectrum of physical, chemical and biochemical methods, with a focus on time-resolved polarized emission and absorption spectroscopy in UV, VIS and IR. For an overview of lab infrastructure and equipment see experimental methods/facilities.


We offer a four unit lecture course in biological methods, followed by a one week full time lab course providing hands-on experience in CD, FTIR, time-resolved fluorescence depolarization, transient absorption spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction. For details see teaching/courses.