We present a new concept for measuring distance values of single molecules from a surface with nanometer accuracy using the energy transfer from the excited molecule to surface plasmons of a metal film . We measure the fluorescence lifetime of individual dye molecules deposited on a dielectric spacer as a function of a spacer thickness. By using our theoretical model , we convert the lifetime values into the axial distance of individual molecules. Similar to Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET), this allows emitters to be localized with nanometer accuracy, but in contrast to FRET the distance range at which efficient energy transfer takes place is an order of magnitude larger. Together with orientation measurements , one can potentially use smMIET to localize single emitters with a nanometer precision isotropically, which will facilitate intra- and intermolecular distance measurements in biomolecules and complexes, circumventing the requirement of the knowledge of mutual orientations between two dipole emitters which severely limits the quantification of such distances from a conventional single-pair FRET (spFRET) experiment.
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Narain V. S. Karedla, Sebastian Isbaner, Alexey I. Chizhik, Ingo Gregor, Joerg Enderlein, and Anna M. Chizhik, "metal-induced energy transfer (MIET) (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10071, Single Molecule Spectroscopy and Superresolution Imaging X, 1007106 (Presented at SPIE BiOS: January 28, 2017; Published: 24 April 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2255744.5380386350001.
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