Probing distance-dependent plasmon-enhanced near-infrared fluorescence using polyelectrolyte multilayers as dielectric spacers

Naveen Gandra, Christopher Portz, Limei Tian, Rui Tang, Baogang Xu, Samuel Achilefu, Srikanth Singamaneni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Owing to their applications in biodetection and molecular bioimaging, near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent dyes are being extensively investigated. Most of the existing NIR dyes exhibit poor quantum yield, which hinders their translation to preclinical and clinical settings. Plasmonic nanostructures are known to act as tiny antennae for efficiently focusing the electromagnetic field into nanoscale volumes. The fluorescence emission from NIR dyes can be enhanced by more than thousand times by precisely placing them in proximity to gold nanorods. We have employed polyelectrolyte multilayers fabricated using layer-by-layer assembly as dielectric spacers for precisely tuning the distance between gold nanorods and NIR dyes. The aspect ratio of the gold nanorods was tuned to match the longitudinal localized surface plasmon resonance wavelength with the absorption maximum of the NIR dye to maximize the plasmonically enhanced fluorescence. The design criteria derived from this study lays the groundwork for ultrabright fluorescence bullets for in vitro and in vivo molecular bioimaging. A simple and effective approach to probe distance-dependent plasmon-enhanced fluorescence is developed using polyelectrolyte multilayers to design ultrabright flurophores for near-infrared imaging (see picture). By carefully choosing the plasmonic nanostructures and chromophores with the corresponding maximum spectral overlap, a variety of ultrabright fluorescence probes can be designed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)866-870
Number of pages5
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 13 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • dyes
  • fluorescence
  • gold nanorods
  • layer-by-layer technique
  • surface plasmon resonances

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)


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