Plasmon-Enhanced Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay on Large Arrays of Individual Particles Made by Electron Beam Lithography
Journal article, 2013
Ultrasensitive biosensing is one of the main driving forces behind the dynamic research field of plasmonics. We have previously demonstrated that the sensitivity of single nanoparticle plasmon spectroscopy can be greatly enhanced by enzymatic amplification of the refractive index footprint of individual protein molecules, so-called plasmon-enhanced enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The technique, which is based on generation of an optically dense precipitate catalyzed by horseradish peroxidase at the metal surface, allowed for colorimetric analysis of ultralow molecular surface coverages with a limit of detection approaching the single molecule limit. However, the plasmonic response induced by a single enzyme can be expected to vary for a number of reasons, including inhomogeneous broadening of the sensing properties of individual particles, variation in electric field enhancement over the surface of a single particle and variation in size and morphology of the enzymatic precipitate. In this report, we discuss how such inhomogeneities affect the possibility to quantify the number of molecules bound to a single nanoparticle. The discussion is based on simulations and measurements of large arrays of well-separated gold nanoparticles fabricated by electron beam lithography (EBL). The new data confirms the intrinsic single-molecule sensitivity of the technique but we were not able to clearly resolve the exact number of adsorbed molecules per single particle. The results indicate that the main sources of uncertainty come from variations in sensitivity across the surface of individual particles and between different particles. There is also a considerable uncertainty in the actual precipitate morphology produced by individual enzyme molecules. Possible routes toward further improvements of the methodology are discussed.