Strong plasmonic fluorescence enhancement of individual plant light-harvesting complexes†
Plasmonic coupling of metallic nanoparticles and adjacent pigments can dramatically increase the brightness of the pigments due to the enhanced local electric field. Here, we demonstrate that the fluorescence brightness of a single plant light-harvesting complex (LHCII) can be significantly enhanced when coupled to a gold nanorod (AuNR). The AuNRs utilized in this study were prepared via chemical reactions, and the hybrid system was constructed using a simple and economical spin-assisted layer-by-layer technique. Enhancement of fluorescence brightness of up to 240-fold was observed, accompanied by a 109-fold decrease in the average (amplitude-weighted) fluorescence lifetime from approximately 3.5 ns down to 32 ps, corresponding to an excitation enhancement of 63-fold and emission enhancement of up to 3.8-fold. This large enhancement is due to the strong spectral overlap of the longitudinal localized surface plasmon resonance of the utilized AuNRs and the absorption or emission bands of LHCII. This study provides an inexpensive strategy to explore the fluorescence dynamics of weakly emitting photosynthetic light-harvesting complexes at the single molecule level.