Plasmons enhance bioluminescence

April 1, 2009
The creation of plasmons in metal films or structures has been shown to enhance the processes of fluorescence, phosphorescence, and chemiluminescence; now, researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (Beer-Sheva, Israel) and the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute (Baltimore, MD) have demonstrated that the approach works for bioluminescence as well.

The creation of plasmons in metal films or structures has been shown to enhance the processes of fluorescence, phosphorescence, and chemiluminescence; now, researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (Beer-Sheva, Israel) and the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute (Baltimore, MD) have demonstrated that the approach works for bioluminescence as well. The technique could be useful in the study of bioluminescent processes in general, as well as the use of bioluminescent materials to detect toxic materials.

Discrete semitransparent silver nanodeposits were created on a glass slide; bacteria containing the lux gene (which leads to bioluminescence) were placed on the slide and a nonsilvered control slide and excited with light. The output was monitored with a photomultiplier tube and also captured by a CCD. The result was that the bacteria next to the silvered surface showed an enhancement in far-field bioluminescence by a factor of more than five over the control bacteria. The presence of the silver did not harm the bacteria in any way. When a silicon dioxide (SiO2) layer was placed between the silver and the bacteria, the enhancement in bioluminescence decreased as the SiO2 was increased. Contact Chris D. Geddes at [email protected].

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