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Optical energy harvesting signifies an integrated approach to the gathering of energy from light. The mechanisms that operate in the molecular apparatus of natural photosynthetic systems owe much of their efficiency to the highly localized pooling of energy—though that is not a feature that has been emulated in most artificial constructs. Recently, however, biomimetic energy pooling has become a theme of significant interest in the arena of photoactive materials, where applications are less restricted by a direct focus on the efficiency of solar energy harvesting. These materials present more immediate opportunities for implementation in devices for signal processing, optical computing and information technology (IT) applications. Exploiting advances in synthetic chemistry and laser photophysics, new energy pooling materials are designed to operate at much higher than ambient intensities of light, with operational characteristics geared to specific laser input wavelengths. In this chapter, it is shown how key principles learned from nature are being applied and extended in the design of optically nonlinear materials for energy pooling. Particular attention is bestowed on dendrimers, other multichromophore arrays, and rare-earth-doped materials.
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