Thinking outside the shell: novel sensors designed from plasmon-enhanced fluorescent concentric nanoparticles
The alteration of photophysical properties of fluorophores in the vicinity of a metallic nanostructure, a phenomenon termed plasmon- or metal-enhanced fluorescence (MEF), has been investigated extensively and used in a variety of proof-of-concept demonstrations over the years. A particularly active area of development in this regard has been the design of nanostructures where fluorophore and metallic core are held in a stable geometry that imparts improved luminosity and photostability to a plethora of organic fluorophores. This minireview presents an overview of MEF-based concentric core–shell sensors developed in the past few years. These architectures expand the range of applications of nanoparticles (NPs) beyond the uses possible with fluorescent molecules. Design aspects that are being described include the influence of the nanocomposite structure on MEF, notably the dependence of fluorescence intensity and lifetime on the distance to the plasmonic core. The chemical composition of nanocomposites as a design feature is also discussed, taking as an example the use of non-noble plasmonic metals such as indium as core materials to enhance multiple fluorophores throughout the UV-Vis range and tune the sensitivity of halide-sensing fluorophores operating on the principle of collisional quenching. Finally, the paper describes how various solid substrates can be functionalized with MEF-based nanosensors to bestow them with intense and photostable pH-sensitive properties for use in fields such as medical therapy and diagnostics, dentistry, biochemistry and microfluidics.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Analytical Nanoscience