Quantitative Comparison of Protein Surface Coverage on Glass Slides and Silver Island Films in Metal-Enhanced Fluorescence-based Biosensing Applications

Tsehai A.J. Grell, Eduardo Paredes, Subha R. Das, Kadir Aslan


The use of Metal-Enhanced Fluorescence (MEF) phenomenon in fluorescence-based bioassays affords for increased sensitivity to be realized by incorporating metal nanoparticles onto planar surfaces. The close-range interactions of metal-fluorophores result in increased fluorescence emission from the bioassays, which in turn affords for the detection of target biomolecules at lower concentrations. Moreover, the use of silver nanoparticles increases the photostability of fluorophores improving the detectability of fluorescence emission under prolonged use of excitation light. Although numerous reports on MEF-based biosensing applications exist, the contribution of protein coverage on Silver Island Films (SIFs) on the increased fluorescence emission was never investigated. This work presents our findings on the quantitative comparison of protein surface coverage on SIFs and blank glass slides. In this regard, identical protein bioassay for a model protein (biotinylated bovine serum albumin, b-BSA) on these surfaces is constructed and the relative extent of protein surface coverage on SIFs and blank glass slides was determined using radio-labeled biomolecules. It was found that the total scintillation counts on SIFs and blank glass slides were similar for BSA concentrations ranging from 1 μM to 1 pM, which implies that increased fluorescence in MEF-based biosensing applications is only due to metal-fluorophore interactions.