JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY C, cilt.116, ss.10766-10773, 2012
Previously reported studies indicate that aluminum nanostructured substrates can potentially find widespread use in metal-enhanced fluorescence (MEF) applications particularly in the UV or near-UV spectral region toward label-free detection of biomolecules. MEF largely depends on several factors, such as chemical nature, size, shape of the nanostructure and its distance from the fluorophore. A detailed understanding of the MEF and its distance-dependence are important for its potential application in biomedical sensing. Our goal is to utilize intrinsic protein fluorescence for label free binding assays. This is made possible by the use of metallic nanostructures which provide localized excitation and enhanced fluorescence of UV fluorophores and will also provide a way to separate the surface bound proteins from the bulk samples. We evaluated varied probe distances from plasmonic nanostructures by the well-established layer-by-layer (LbL) technique. The investigated proteins were adsorbed on different numbers of alternate layers of poly(styrene sulfonate) (PSS) and poly(allylamine hydrochloride) (PAR). Bovine serum albumin (BSA) was electrostatically attached to the positively charged PAH layer, and goat and rabbit IgG were attached to negatively charged PSS layer. We obtained a maximum of a similar to 9 fold increase in fluorescence intensity from BSA at a distance of similar to 9 nm from the Al nanostructured surface. Approximately 6- and 7- fold increases were observed from goat and rabbit IgG at a distance of similar to 8 nm, respectively. The minimum lifetimes were about 3-fold shorter than those on bare control quartz slides for all three proteins. The time-resolved intensity decays were analyzed with a lifetime distribution model to understand the distance effect on the metal-fluorophore interaction in detail. The present study indicates the distance dependence nature of metal-enhanced intrinsic fluorescence of proteins and potential of LbL assembly to control the metal-to-fluorophore distance in the UV wavelength region.