To strengthen weak signals in fluorescence-based detection and imaging techniques, researchers have developed an inexpensive plasmonic patch that can increase fluorescence intensity up to 100×.
The patch, about a centimeter square, is based on a flexible and conformal elastomeric film with embedded plasmonic nanostructures. Its use does not require any change in testing protocols. After the sample is prepared, the patch is transferred onto its surface, and the sample is scanned as usual.
“It’s a thin layer of elastic, transparent material with gold nanorods or other plasmonic nanostructures absorbed on the top,” said researcher Jingyi Luan. “These nanostructures act as antennae: They concentrate light into a tiny volume around the molecules emitting fluorescence. The fluorescence is dramatic, making it easier to visualize. The patch can be imagined to be a magnifying glass for the light.”