A highly bright and photostable, fluorescent nanohybrid particle is presented which consists of gold nanoparticles (GNPs) embedded in dye-doped silica in a core-shell configuration. The dye used is the near-infrared emitting 4,5-benzo-5'-(iodoacetaminomethyl)-1',3,3,3',3'-pentamethyl-1-(4-sulfobutyl) indodicarbo cyanine. The nanohybrid architecture comprises a GNP core which is separated from a layer of dye molecules by a 15 nm buffer layer and has an outer protective, undoped silica shell. Using this architecture, a brightness factor of 550 has been achieved compared to the free dye. This hybrid system, referred to as Noble metal Enhanced Optical Nanohybrid (NEON) in this paper, is the first nanohybrid construct to our knowledge which demonstrates such tunable fluorescence property. NEON has enhanced photostability compared to the free dye and compared to a control particle without GNPs. Furthermore, the NEON particle, when used as a fluorescent label in a model bioassay, shows improved performance over assays using a conventional single dye molecule label.
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