Multiplex and high-throughput DNA detection using surface plasmon mediated fluorescence
The overall objective of this research project was to develop a user-friendly and sensitive biosensor for nucleic acid aptamers with multiplexing and high-throughput capability. The sensing was based on the fluorescence signals emitted by the fluorophores coupling with plamonic nanoparticle (gold nanorod) deposited on a patterned substrate. Gold nanorods (GNRs) were synthesized using a binary mixture of hexadecyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB) and sodium oleate (NaOL) in seed mediated growth method. Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) printed glass slides were selectively coated with a gold thin-film to define hydrophilic areas for GNR deposition. Due to the wettablity contrast, GNR solution dropped on the slide was induced to assemble exclusively in the hydrophilic spots. By controlling temperature and humidity of the evaporation process, vertically-standing GNR arrays were achieved on the pattered slide. Fluorescence was conjugated to GNR surface via DNA double strand with tunable length. Theoretical simulation predicted a flat layer (~30 nm thick) of uniform “hot spots” presented on the GNR tips, which could modify the nearby fluorescence. Experimentally, the vertical GNR arrays yielded metallic enhanced fluorescence (MEF) effect, which was dependent on the spectrum overlap and GNR-fluorophore distance. Specifically, the maximum enhancement of Quasar 670 and Alexa 750 was observed when it was coupled with GNR664 (plasmonic wavelength 664 nm) and GNR778 respectively at a distance of 16 nm, while the carboxyfluorescein (FAM) was at maximal intensity when attached to gold nanosphere520. This offers an opportunity for multiplexed DNA sensing. Based on this, we developed a novel GNR mediated fluorescence biosensor for DNA detection. Fluorescence labeled haipin-DNA probes were introduced to designated spots of GNR array with the matching LSPR wavelengths on the substrate. The fluorescence was quenched originally because of Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) effect. Upon hybridization with their complimentary target DNAs, hairpin structures were opened and the fluorescence enhancement from each GNR sensing spot was measured by fluorescence scanning. We demonstrated multiple DNA sequences were simultaneously detected at a picomolar level with high-throughput capability using the ordered GNR array biochip.