Plasmonic interferometric sensor arrays for high-performance label-free biomolecular detection
A plasmonic interferometric biosensor that consists of arrays of circular aperture–groove nanostructures patterned on a gold film for phase-sensitive biomolecular detection is demonstrated. The phase and amplitude of interfering surface plasmon polaritons (SPPs) in the proposed device can be effectively engineered by structural tuning, providing flexible and efficient control over the plasmon line shape observed through SPP interference. Spectral fringes with high contrast, narrow linewidth, and large amplitude have been experimentally measured and permit the sensitive detection of protein surface coverage as low as 0.4 pg mm−2. This sensor resolution compares favorably with commercial prism-based surface plasmon resonance systems (0.1 pg mm−2) but is achieved here using a significantly simpler collinear transmission geometry, a miniaturized sensor footprint, and a low-cost compact spectrometer. Furthermore, we also demonstrate superior sensor performance using the intensity interrogation method, which can be combined with CCD imaging to upscale our platform to high-throughput array sensing. A novel low-background interferometric sensing scheme yields a high sensing figure of merit (FOM*) of 146 in the visible region, surpassing that of previous plasmonic biosensors and facilitating ultrasensitive high-throughput detection.