Realisation and advanced engineering of true optical rugate filters based on nanoporous anodic alumina by sinusoidal pulse anodisation†
This study is the first realisation of true optical rugate filters (RFs) based on nanoporous anodic alumina (NAA) by sinusoidal waves. An innovative and rationally designed sinusoidal pulse anodisation (SPA) approach in galvanostatic mode is used with the aim of engineering the effective medium of NAA in a sinusoidal fashion. A precise control over the different anodisation parameters (i.e. anodisation period, anodisation amplitude, anodisation offset, number of pulses, anodisation temperature and pore widening time) makes it possible to engineer the characteristic reflection peaks and interferometric colours of NAA-RFs, which can be finely tuned across the UV-visible-NIR spectrum. The effect of the aforementioned anodisation parameters on the photonic properties of NAA-RFs (i.e. characteristic reflection peaks and interferometric colours) is systematically assessed in order to establish for the first time a comprehensive rationale towards NAA-RFs with fully controllable photonic properties. The experimental results are correlated with a theoretical model (Looyenga–Landau–Lifshitz – LLL), demonstrating that the effective medium of these photonic nanostructures can be precisely described by the effective medium approximation. NAA-RFs are also demonstrated as chemically selective photonic platforms combined with reflectometric interference spectroscopy (RIfS). The resulting optical sensing system is used to assess the reversible binding affinity between a model drug (i.e. indomethacin) and human serum albumin (HSA) in real-time. Our results demonstrate that this system can be used to determine the overall pharmacokinetic profile of drugs, which is a critical aspect to be considered for the implementation of efficient medical therapies.