Controlled integration of gold nanoparticles and organic fluorophores using synthetically modified MS2 viral capsids

Stacy L. Capehart, Michael P. Coyle, Jeff E. Glasgow, Matthew B. Francis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


The placement of fluorophores in close proximity to metal nanoparticle surfaces is proposed to enhance several photophysical properties of the dyes, potentially leading to improved quantum yields and decreased photobleaching. It is difficult in practice, however, to establish and maintain the nanoscale distances that are required to maximize these effects. The type of metal, size, and shape of the nanoparticle, the physical distance separating the metal nanoparticle from the organic dye, and the spectral properties of the fluorophore itself are all proposed to influence the quantum yield and lifetime. This results in a complex behavior that can lead to either enhanced or quenched fluorescence in different contexts. In this report, we describe a well-defined system that can be used to explore these effects, while physically preventing the fluorophores from contacting the nanoparticle surfaces. The basis of this system is the spherical protein capsid of bacteriophage MS2, which was used to house gold particles within its interior volume. The exterior surface of each capsid was then modified with Alexa Fluor 488 (AF 488) labeled DNA strands. By placing AF 488 dyes at distances of 3, 12, and 24 bp from the surface of capsids containing 10 nm gold nanoparticles, fluorescence intensity enhancements of 2.2, 1.2, and 1.0 were observed, respectively. A corresponding decrease in fluorescence lifetime was observed for each distance. Because of its well-defined and modular nature, this architecture allows the rapid exploration of the many variables involved in metal-controlled fluorescence, leading to a better understanding of this phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3011-3016
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number8
StatePublished - Feb 27 2013
Externally publishedYes


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