Directional surface plasmon-coupled emission: A new method for high sensitivity detection

Joseph R. Lakowicz, Joanna Malicka, Ignacy Gryczynski, Zygmunt Gryczynski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations


Fluorescence emission is nearly isotropic in space. With typical optical components the collection efficiency is 1% or less. In this preliminary report, we describe a novel approach to transforming the normally isotropic emission into directional emission with a collection efficiency near 50%. This can be accomplished for fluorophores located near a semi-transparent silver film on a glass substrate. The emission couples with the surface plasmon resonance on the silver surface and enters the transparent substrate at a sharply defined angle, the surface plasmon angle for the emission wavelength. We estimate that 40-70% of the total emission enters the substrate at the plasmon angle and can thus be directed towards a detector. Background emission from fluorophores distant from the silver does not couple with the plasmon and is not detected. Different emission wavelengths couple at different angles allowing spectral discrimination without additional optics. Surface plasmon-coupled emission represents a new technology which can be used for high detection efficiency with microfluidic and/or surface-bound assay formats.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-439
Number of pages5
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2003


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