The photobleaching of chromophores in front of a metal film is measured by recording the emitted fluorescence intensity from an ensemble of chromophores as a function of time. A strong dependence of the photostability on the distance from the metal surface is found. The experimental data are well described in a classical electromagnetic model with the additional assumption that photobleaching occurs at a constant rate from the excited state. The metal interface influences the photostability of the chromophores in two ways, first by altering the excitation rate by local enhancement of the electromagnetic field and second by altering the electromagnetic decay rate.

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