Journal for Biophysical Chemistry

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Open Access

Biosensors based on surface plasmon-enhanced fluorescence spectroscopy (Review)

  • Jakub Dostálek1 and
  • Wolfgang Knoll1

Received: 2 May 2008

Accepted: 11 July 2008

Published: 16 January 2009


The implementation of surface plasmon-enhanced fluorescence spectroscopy (SPFS) to surface plasmon resonance (SPR) biosensors enables increasing their sensitivity by several orders of magnitude. In SPR-based biosensors, surface plasmons probe the binding of target molecules contained in a liquid sample by their affinity partners attached to a metallic sensor surface. SPR biosensors relying on the detection of refractive index changes allow for direct observation of the binding of large and medium size molecules that produces sufficiently large refractive index changes. In SPR biosensors exploiting SPFS, the capture of fluorophore-labeled molecules to the sensor surface is observed by the detection of fluorescence light emitted from the surface. This technique takes advantage of the enhanced intensity of electromagnetic field accompanied with the resonant excitation of surface plasmons. The interaction with surface plasmons can greatly increase the measured fluorescence signal through enhancing the excitation rate of fluorophores and by more efficient collecting of fluorescence light. SPFS-based biosensors were shown to enable the analysis of samples with extremely low analyte concentrations and the detection of small molecules. In this review, we describe the fundamental principles, implementations, and current state of the art applications of SPFS biosensors. This review focuses on SPFS-based biosensors employing the excitation of surface plasmons on continuous metal-dielectric interfaces.