Nanogap embedded silver gratings for surface plasmon enhanced fluorescence
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Plasmonic nanostructures have been extensively used in the past few decades for applications in sub-wavelength optics, data storage, optoelectronic circuits, microscopy and bio-photonics. The enhanced electric field produced within a few hundred nanometers of these surfaces can be used to excite fluorophores in the surrounding environment. Fluorescence based bio-detection and bio-imaging are two of the most important tools in the life sciences and improving the qualities and capabilities of fluorescence based detectors and imaging equipment remains a big challenge for industry manufacturers. We report a novel fabrication technique for producing nano-gap embedded periodic grating substrates on the nanoscale using a store bought HD-DVD and conventional soft lithography procedures. Polymethylsilsesquioxane (PMSSQ) polymer is used as the ink for the micro-contact printing process with PDMS stamps obtained from the inexpensive HD-DVDs as master molds. Fluorescence enhancement factors of up to 118 times were observed with these silver nanostructures in conjugation with Rhodamine-590 fluorescent dye. These substrates are ideal candidates for a robust and inexpensive optical system with applications such as low-level fluorescence based analyte detection, single molecule imaging, and surface enhanced Raman studies.