We report an observation of ultraviolet (UV) surface plasmon–coupled emission (SPCE) of N-acetyl-l-tryptophanamide (NATA). The sample was spin coated from poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) solution on 20 nm aluminum film deposited on a quartz substrate. The directional UV SPCE occurs within a well-defined narrow angle at 52° from the normal to the coupling hemicylinder quartz prism. The NATA directional emission is highly p polarized as expected for surface plasmon–coupled radiation. The 10 nm protective SiO2 layer deposited on top of the aluminum film significantly neutralized the fluorophore quenching by the metal surface. SPCE of NATA demonstrates a remarkable intrinsic dispersive property—the maximum of the emission spectrum depends on the observation angle. The efficient spectral resolution of SPCE can be used in the construction of miniaturized spectrofluorometers. The observation of SPCE of tryptophan opens a new possibility for the study of many unlabeled proteins with the technique complementary to surface plasmon resonance analysis.
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Vol. 80 • No. 3