"Two noble metallic nanoparticles in close proximity will couple with each other through their plasmon resonances to generate a light-scattering spectrum that depends strongly on the distance between the two nanoparticles," Alivisatos says. "This light-scattering effect has been used to create linear plasmon rulers that have been used to measure nanoscale distances in biological cells."
Compared to other types of molecular rulers, which are based on chemical dyes and fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET), plasmon rulers neither blink nor photobleach, and also offer exceptional photostability and brightness. However, until now plasmon rulers could only be used to measure distances along one dimension, a limitation that hampers any comprehensive understanding of all the biological and other soft-matter processes that take place in 3D.
"Plasmonic coupling in multiple nanoparticles placed in proximity to each other leads to light scattering spectra that are sensitive to a complete set of 3D motions," says Laura Na Liu, corresponding author of the Science paper. "The key to our success is that we were able to create sharp spectral features in the otherwise broad resonance profile of plasmon-coupled nanostructures by using interactions between quadrupolar and dipolar modes."
Liu explains that typical dipolar plasmon resonances are broad because of radiative damping. As a result, the simple coupling between multiple particles produces indistinct spectra that are not readily converted into distances. She and her co-authors overcame this problem with a 3D ruler constructed from five gold nanorods of individually controlled length and orientation, in which one nanorod is placed perpendicular between two pairs of parallel rod nanorods to form a structure that resembles the letter H.
"The strong coupling between the single nanorod and the two parallel nanorod pairs suppresses radiative damping and allows for t
|Contact: Lynn Yarris|
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory