Visualization of molecular fluorescence point spread functions via remote excitation switching fluorescence microscopy

Liang Su, Gang Lu, Bart Kenens, Susana Rocha, Eduard Fron, Haifeng Yuan, Chang Chen, Pol Van Dorpe, Maarten BJ Roeffaers, Hideaki Mizuno, Johan Hofkens, James A Hutchison, Hiroshi Uji-i (see publication in Journal )


The enhancement of molecular absorption, emission and scattering processes by coupling to surface plasmon polaritons on metallic nanoparticles is a key issue in plasmonics for applications in (bio)chemical sensing, light harvesting and photocatalysis. Nevertheless, the point spread functions for single-molecule emission near metallic nanoparticles remain difficult to characterize due to fluorophore photodegradation, background emission and scattering from the plasmonic structure. Here we overcome this problem by exciting fluorophores remotely using plasmons propagating along metallic nanowires. The experiments reveal a complex array of single-molecule fluorescence point spread functions that depend not only on nanowire dimensions but also on the position and orientation of the molecular transition dipole. This work has consequences for both single-molecule regime-sensing and super-resolution imaging involving metallic nanoparticles and opens the possibilities for fast size sorting of metallic nanoparticles, and for predicting molecular orientation and binding position on metallic nanoparticles via far-field optical imaging.