Molecular-Fluorescence Enhancement via Blue-Shifted Plasmon-Induced Resonance Energy Transfer


We report molecular-fluorescence enhancement via the blue-shifted plasmon-induced resonance energy transfer (PIRET) from single Au nanorods (AuNRs) to merocyanine (MC) dye molecules. The blue-shifted PIRET occurs when there is a proper spectral overlap between the scattering of AuNRs and the absorption of MC molecules. Along with the quenching of scattering from AuNRs, the blue-shifted PIRET enhances the fluorescence of nearby molecules. On the basis of the fluorescence enhancement, we conclude that AuNRs can be used as donors with clear advantages to excite the fluorescence of molecules as acceptors in AuNR–molecule hybrids. On the one hand, compared to conventional molecular donors in Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET), AuNRs have much larger absorption cross sections at the plasmon resonance frequencies. On the other hand, energy-transfer efficiency of PIRET decreases at a lower rate than that of FRET when the donor–acceptor distance is increased. Besides, the blue-shifted PIRET allows excitation with incident light of lower energy than the acceptor’s absorption, which is difficult to achieve in FRET because of the Stokes shift. With the capability of enhancing molecular fluorescence with excitation light of low intensity and long wavelength, the blue-shifted PIRET will expand the applications of nanoparticle–molecule hybrids in biosensing and bioimaging by increasing signal-to-noise ratio and by reducing photodamage to biological cells and organelles at the targeted areas.

Journal article
The Journal of Physical Chemistry C