Metallic Nanostructures Based on Self-Assembling DNA Templates for Studying Optical Phenomena
DNA origami is a novel self-assembly technique that can be used to form various
2D and 3D objects, and to position matter with nanometer accuracy. It has been
used to coordinate the placement of nanoscale objects, both organic and inorganic, to make molecular motor and walkers; and to create optically active nanostructures. In this dissertation, DNA origami templates are used to assemble plasmonic structures. Specifically, engineered Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) substrates were fabricated. Gold nanoparticles were selectively placed on the corners of rectangular origami and subsequently enlarged via solution-based metal deposition. The resulting assemblies exhibited "hot spots" of enhanced electromagnetic field between the nanoparticles. These hot spots significantly enhanced the Raman signal from Raman molecules covalently attached to the assemblies. Control samples with only one nanoparticle per DNA template, which therefore lacked inter-particle hot spots, did not exhibit strong enhancement. Furthermore, Raman molecules were used to map out the hot spots' distribution, as the molecules are photo-damaged when experiencing a threshold electric field. This method opens up the prospect of using DNA origami to rationally engineer and assemble plasmonic structures for molecular spectroscopy.
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