|AVS 58th Annual International Symposium and Exhibition|
|Applied Surface Science Division||Wednesday Sessions|
|Session:||Advances in Scanning Probe Microscopy|
|Presenter:||T. Yamada, RIKEN, Japan|
|Authors:||T. Yamada, RIKEN, Japan
T. Iwaya, The University of Tokyo, Japan
S. Matsunaga, The University of Tokyo, Japan
M. Kawai, The University of Tokyo, Japan
|Correspondent:||Click to Email|
We detected the characteristic visible light emission from fluorescent protein molecules deposited on metallic silver (Ag) upon injection of tunneling electrons generated by a standard scanning tunneling microscope (STM) in ambient condition. A series of fluorescent proteins originating from jellyfish or coral, nowadays engineered to generate various colors of fluorescence by gene technology, is characterized with a β-barrel structure insulating the chromophore electronically from the surrounding. We purchased green, yellow, red and infrared fluorescent proteins (GFP, YFP, RFP, HcRed, molecular diameter ≈ 5 nm), deposited on a bare Ag surface, and used a Ag tip set on a STM setup to obtain images and to generate fluorescence. Light from the gap was collected by an optical fiber and introduced to a grating spectrometer with a liquid N2-cooled CCD detector. On bare Ag surfaces, visible light was detected with the STM bias voltage within ±1.8 V in a modestly moisturized N2 atmosphere. The spectra were unstable in general, indicating light emission upon excitation of local plasmon , which depends on the changeable geometry of Ag tip. The wavelength onset of emitted light was equivalent to the STM bias voltage within ±3.0 V, obeying the law of quantum energy conservation. The fluorescent proteins were dissolved in pure water, drop-cast on the Ag substrate and air-dried to form multilayers. STM images mostly showed flat terraces with steps composed of the protein molecules. Within a 200nm x 200nm scanning area, the light emission spectra apparently involved the characteristic fluorescence peaks of proteins (GFP = 540 nm (2.30 eV), YFP = 550 nm (2.25 eV), RFP = 650 nm (1.91 eV), HcRed = 660 nm (1.88 eV)) over a background of weakened Ag plasmon spectrum. The same experiment with Au tips and Au(111) substrates was with almost no detection for the characteristic fluorescence of all the proteins. For clean Au(111), although visible light was detected, the above-mentioned plasmon energy conservation stood for the bias voltage only within ±1.9 V. The maximum energy of local plasmon on Au(111) is too small to excite the florescent proteins electronically. The characteristic fluorescence from proteins is considered aided by the plasmon excitation of the Ag substrate. The protein β-barrel structure reserves the lifetime of excited state towards light emission, insulating electronically from the metallic substrate against the radiationless de-excitation process of the present surface-adsorbate system.
 F. Rossel, M. Pivetta, W.-D. Schneider, Surf. Sci. Rep. 65, 129 (2010).