Single-Molecule Metal-Induced Energy Transfer (smMIET): Resolving Nanometer Distances at the Single-Molecule Level

Authors

  • Narain Karedla,

    1. Georg-August-Universität, III. Institute of Physics—Biophysics, Friedrich-Hund-Platz 1, 37077 Göttingen (Germany), Fax: (+49) 551-39 7720
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  • Dr. Alexey I. Chizhik,

    1. Georg-August-Universität, III. Institute of Physics—Biophysics, Friedrich-Hund-Platz 1, 37077 Göttingen (Germany), Fax: (+49) 551-39 7720
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  • Dr. Ingo Gregor,

    1. Georg-August-Universität, III. Institute of Physics—Biophysics, Friedrich-Hund-Platz 1, 37077 Göttingen (Germany), Fax: (+49) 551-39 7720
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  • Dr. Anna M. Chizhik,

    1. Georg-August-Universität, III. Institute of Physics—Biophysics, Friedrich-Hund-Platz 1, 37077 Göttingen (Germany), Fax: (+49) 551-39 7720
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  • Dr. Olaf Schulz,

    1. Georg-August-Universität, III. Institute of Physics—Biophysics, Friedrich-Hund-Platz 1, 37077 Göttingen (Germany), Fax: (+49) 551-39 7720
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  • Prof. Dr. Jörg Enderlein

    Corresponding author
    1. Georg-August-Universität, III. Institute of Physics—Biophysics, Friedrich-Hund-Platz 1, 37077 Göttingen (Germany), Fax: (+49) 551-39 7720
    • Georg-August-Universität, III. Institute of Physics—Biophysics, Friedrich-Hund-Platz 1, 37077 Göttingen (Germany), Fax: (+49) 551-39 7720

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Abstract

We present a new concept for measuring distance values of single molecules from a surface with nanometer accuracy using the energy transfer from the excited molecule to surface plasmons of a metal film. We measure the fluorescence lifetime of individual dye molecules deposited on a dielectric spacer as a function of a spacer thickness. By using our theoretical model, we convert the lifetime values into the axial distance of individual molecules. Similar to Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET), this allows emitters to be localized with nanometer accuracy, but in contrast to FRET the distance range at which efficient energy transfer takes place is an order of magnitude larger. Our technique can be potentially used as a tool for measuring intramolecular distances of biomolecules and complexes.

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