ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Citation: Light: Science & Applications (2015) 4, e267; doi:10.1038/lsa.2015.40
Published online 27 March 2015

Bioinspired optical antennas: gold plant viruses
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SoonGweon Hong1,2, Mi Yeon Lee3, Andrew O Jackson3 and Luke P Lee1,2,4,5

  1. 1Department of Bioengineering, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
  2. 2Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
  3. 3Department of Plant & Microbial Biology, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
  4. 4Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
  5. 5Biophysics Graduate Program, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA

Correspondence: LP Lee, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA. E-mail: lplee@berkeley.edu

Received 5 September 2014; Revised 30 December 2014; Accepted 11 January 2015

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Abstract

The ability to capture the chemical signatures of biomolecules (i.e., electron-transfer dynamics) in living cells will provide an entirely new perspective on biology and medicine. This can be accomplished using nanoscale optical antennas that can collect, resonate and focus light from outside the cell and emit molecular spectra. Here, we describe biologically inspired nanoscale optical antennas that utilize the unique topologies of plant viruses (and thus, are called gold plant viruses) for molecular fingerprint detection. Our electromagnetic calculations for these gold viruses indicate that capsid morphologies permit high amplification of optical scattering energy compared to a smooth nanosphere. From experimental measurements of various gold viruses based on four different plant viruses, we observe highly enhanced optical cross-sections and the modulation of the resonance wavelength depending on the viral morphology. Additionally, in label-free molecular imaging, we successfully obtain higher sensitivity (by a factor of up to 106) than can be achieved using similar-sized nanospheres. By virtue of the inherent functionalities of capsids and the plasmonic characteristics of the gold layer, a gold virus-based antenna will enable cellular targeting, imaging and drug delivery.

Keywords:

molecular sensor; nanophotonics; optical antenna; optical spectroscopy; plant virus; plasmonics; plasmonic resonant energy transfer (PRET); surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS)

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