An organic semiconductor laser platform for the detection of DNA by AgNP plasmonic enhancement

McConnell, G. and Mabbott, S. and Kanibolotskyy, A. L. and Skabara, P. J. and Graham, D. and Burley, G. A. and Laurand, N. (2018) An organic semiconductor laser platform for the detection of DNA by AgNP plasmonic enhancement. Langmuir. ISSN 0743-7463 (

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Organic semiconductor lasers are a sensitive biosensing platform that responds to specific biomolecule binding event. So far, such biosensors have utilized protein-based interactions for surface functionalization but a nucleic acid-based strategy would considerably widen their utility as a general biodiagnostic platform. This manuscript reports two important advances for DNA-based sensing using an organic semiconductor (OS) distributed feedback (DFB) laser. Firstly, the immobilization of alkyne-tagged 12/18-mer oligodeoxyribonucleotide (ODN) probes by Cu-catalyzed azide alkyne cycloaddition (CuAAC) or ‘click chemistry’ onto an 80-nm thick OS laser film modified with an azide-presenting polyelectrolyte monolayer is presented. Secondly, sequence-selective binding to these immobilized probes with complementary ODN functionalized silver nanoparticles, is detected. As binding occurs, the nanoparticles increase the optical losses of the laser mode through plasmonic scattering and absorption, and this causes a rise in the threshold pump energy required for laser action that is proportional to the analyte concentration. By monitoring this threshold, detection of the complementary ODN target down to 11.5 pM is achieved. This complementary binding on the laser surface is independently confirmed through surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS).