Fluorescence technologies are key research tools in the life sciences, biotechnology, medical diagnostics, forensics, and other fields. Fluorescence-based measurements include ELISA, PCR, microarray gene expression chips, other medical diagnostics, forensics tests and biohazard detection technologies. More sensitivity is often desired or needed in many of these techniques to permit reliable detection of a smaller number of sample molecules within in a smaller sample volume.
Our Surface Plasmon Coupled Emission (SPCE) technology should be the most sensitive method to detect fluorescence at a surface. This sensitivity is due to greatly reduced background fluorescence as well as directed emission allowing collection of much more of the fluorescence. It only detects a fluorophore within 8-100 nm of a gold, silver, or aluminum surface. The fluorophores are on the surface (top) of the metal film. Excitation is from the top or bottom, while the emission is detected from behind or below (bottom) of the metal surface. Additionally, no monochromator is needed; different wavelengths of light are resolved naturally.
Our present STTR grant focuses on the ratiometric detection of micro-RNA though many other applications where fluorescence is detected are envisioned. It is a collaboration with Professor Ignacy Gryczynski, Professor Zygmut (Karol) Gryczynski, and colleagues, the Center for the Commercialization of Fluorescent Technologies (CCFT) at UNT-HSC in Fort Worth, Texas. We are constructing prototypes to measure the ratio of emission intensities from a reference and analyte fluorophores rather than only intensities. This will make quantitation easier with fewer controls.