Virtually all known fluorophores exhibit mysterious episodes of emission intermittency. A remarkable feature of the phenomenon is a power-law distribution of on- and off-times observed in colloidal semiconductor quantum dots, nanorods, nanowires and some organic dyes. For nanoparticles, the resulting power law extends over an extraordinarily wide dynamic range: nine orders of magnitude in probability density and five to six orders of magnitude in time. Exponents hover about the ubiquitous value of -3/2. Dark states routinely last for tens of seconds-practically forever on quantum mechanical timescales. Despite such infinite states of darkness, the dots miraculously recover and start emitting again. Although the underlying mechanism responsible for this phenomenon remains a mystery and many questions persist, I argue that substantial theoretical progress has been made.
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