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Resonant Plasmonic Enhancement of Single-Molecule Fluorescence by Individual Gold Nanorods

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Huygens-Kamerlingh Onnes Laboratory, Universiteit Leiden, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands
Centro de Química Estrutural, Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa, Avenida Rovisco Pais 1, 1049-001 Lisboa, Portugal
§ Department of Applied Physics, Eindhoven University of Technology, 5612 AZ Eindhoven, The Netherlands
*Address correspondence to [email protected]
Cite this: ACS Nano 2014, 8, 5, 4440–4449
Publication Date (Web):March 31, 2014
Copyright © 2014 American Chemical Society

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Enhancing the fluorescence of a weak emitter is important to further extend the reach of single-molecule fluorescence imaging to many unexplored systems. Here we study fluorescence enhancement by isolated gold nanorods and explore the role of the surface plasmon resonance (SPR) on the observed enhancements. Gold nanorods can be cheaply synthesized in large volumes, yet we find similar fluorescence enhancements as literature reports on lithographically fabricated nanoparticle assemblies. The fluorescence of a weak emitter, crystal violet, can be enhanced more than 1000-fold by a single nanorod with its SPR at 629 nm excited at 633 nm. This strong enhancement results from both an excitation rate enhancement of ∼130 and an effective emission enhancement of ∼9. The fluorescence enhancement, however, decreases sharply when the SPR wavelength moves away from the excitation laser wavelength or when the SPR has only a partial overlap with the emission spectrum of the fluorophore. The reported measurements of fluorescence enhancement by 11 nanorods with varying SPR wavelengths are consistent with numerical simulations.

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