This paper investigates plasmonic amplification in two commonly used optical configurations for fluorescence readout of bioassays - epifluorescence (EPF) and total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF). The plasmonic amplification in the EPF configuration was implemented by using crossed gold diffraction grating and Kretschmann geometry of attenuated total reflection method (ATR) was employed in the TIRF configuration. Identical assay, surface architecture for analyte capture, and optics for the excitation, collection and detection of emitted fluorescence light intensity were used in both TIRF and EPF configurations. Simulations predict that the crossed gold diffraction grating (EPF) can amplify the fluorescence signal by a factor of 102 by the combination of surface plasmon-enhanced excitation and directional surface plasmon-coupled emission in the red part of spectrum. This factor is about order of magnitude higher than that predicted for the Kretschmann geometry (TIRF) which only took advantage of the surface plasmon-enhanced excitation. When applied for the readout of sandwich interleukin 6 (IL-6) sandwich immunoassay, the plasmonically amplified EPF geometry designed for with Alexa Fluor 647 labels offered 4-times higher fluorescence signal intensity compared to TIRF. Interestingly, both geometries allowed reaching the same detection limit of 0.4 pM despite of the difference in the fluorescence signal enhancement. This is attributed to inherently lower background of fluorescence signal for TIRF geometry compared to that for EPF which compensates for the weaker fluorescence signal enhancement. The analysis of the inflammation biomarker IL-6 in serum at medically relevant concentrations and the utilization of plasmonic amplification for the fluorescence measurement of kinetics of surface affinity reactions are demonstrated for both EPF and TIRF readout.
- Biosensor Technologies