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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2001 Sep 7;286(5):875-9.

Intrinsic fluorescence from DNA can be enhanced by metallic particles.

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  • 1Center for Fluorescence Spectroscopy, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 725 West Lombard Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21201, USA.


High sensitivity detection of DNA is essential for genomics. The intrinsic fluorescence from DNA is very weak and almost all methods for detecting DNA rely on the use of extrinsic fluorescent probes. We show that the intrinsic emission from DNA can be enhanced many-fold by spatial proximity to silver island films. Silver islands are subwavelength size patches of metallic silver on an inert substrate. Time-resolved measurements show a decreased lifetime for the intrinsic DNA emission near the silver islands. These results of increased intensity and decreased lifetime indicate a metal-induced increase in the radiative rate decay of the DNA bases. The possibility of increased radiative decay rates for DNA bases and other fluorophores suggest a wide variety of DNA measurements and other biomedical assays based on metal-induced increases in the fluorescence quantum yield of weakly fluorescent substances.

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