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Kneer, Luisa M.; Roller, Eva-Maria; Besteiro, Lucas; Schreiber, Robert; Govorov, Alexander O.; Liedl, Tim (2018): Circular Dichroism of Chiral Molecules in DNA-Assembled Plasmonic Hotspots. In: ACS Nano, Vol. 12, No. 9: pp. 9110-9115
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Abstract

The chiral state of a molecule plays a crucial role in molecular recognition and biochemical reactions. Because of this and owing to the fact that most modern drugs are chiral, the sensitive and reliable detection of the chirality of molecules is of great interest to drug development. The majority of naturally occurring biomolecules exhibit circular dichroism (CD) in the UV range. Theoretical studies and several experiments have demonstrated that this UV-CD can be transferred into the plasmonic frequency domain when metal surfaces and chiral biomolecules are in close proximity. Here, we demonstrate that the CD transfer effect can be drastically enhanced by placing chiral molecules, here double-stranded DNA, inside a plasmonic hotspot. By using different particle types (gold, silver, spheres, and rods) and by exploiting the versatility of DNA origami, we were able to systematically study the impact of varying particle distances on the CD transfer efficiency and to demonstrate CD transfer over the whole optical spectrum down to the near-infrared. For this purpose, nanorods were also placed upright on DNA origami sheets, forming strong optical antennas. Theoretical models, demonstrating the intricate relationships between molecular chirality and achiral electric fields, support our experimental findings. From both experimental measurements and theoretical considerations, we conclude that the transferred CD is most intensive for systems with strong plasmonic hotspots, as we find them in relatively small gaps (5-12 nm) between spherical nanoparticles and preferably between the tips of nanorods.