Electrostatic interactions between dielectric surfaces and different fluorophores used in ultrasensitive fluorescence microscopy are investigated using objective-based Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy (TIR-FCS). The interfacial dynamics of cationic rhodamine 123 and rhodamine 6G, anionic/dianionic fluorescein, zwitterionic rhodamine 110 and neutral ATTO 488 are monitored at various ionic strengths at physiological pH. As analyzed by means of the amplitude and time-evolution of the autocorrelation function, the fluorescent molecules experience electrostatic attraction or repulsion at the glass surface depending on their charges. Influences of the electrostatic interactions are also monitored through the triplet-state population and triplet relaxation time, including the amount of detected fluorescence or the count-rate-per-molecule parameter. These TIR-FCS results provide an increased understanding of how fluorophores are influenced by the microenvironment of a glass surface, and show a promising approach for characterizing electrostatic interactions at interfaces.
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