Single-molecule spectroelectrochemical cross-correlation during redox cycling in recessed dual ring electrode zero-mode waveguides
The ability of zero-mode waveguides (ZMW) to guide light into subwavelength-diameter nanoapertures has been exploited for studying electron transfer dynamics in zeptoliter-volume nanopores under single-molecule occupancy conditions. In this work, we report the spectroelectrochemical detection of individual molecules of the redox-active, fluorogenic molecule flavin mononucleotide (FMN) freely diffusing in solution. Our approach is based on an array of nanopore-confined recessed dual ring electrodes, wherein repeated reduction and oxidation of a single molecule at two closely spaced annular working electrodes yields amplified electrochemical signals. We have articulated these structures with an optically transparent bottom, so that the nanopores are bifunctional, exhibiting both nanophotonic and nanoelectrochemical behaviors allowing the coupling between electron transfer and fluorescence dynamics to be studied under redox cycling conditions. We also investigated the electric field intensity in electrochemical ZMWs (E-ZMW) through finite-element simulations, and the amplification of fluorescence by redox cycling agrees well with predictions based on optical confinement effects inside the E-ZMW. Proof-of-principle experiments are conducted showing that electrochemical and fluorescence signals may be correlated to reveal single molecule fluctuations in the array population. Cross-correlation of single molecule fluctuations in amperometric response and single photon emission provides unequivocal evidence of single molecule sensitivity.