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Manipulating Light and Sensing Molecules
with Plasmonic Nanomaterials

Project team: Dr. V. P. Drachev, E. Khaliullin, D. Genov, M. Thoreson, Liang Wang, Prof. D. Ben-Amotz (Chemistry), Prof. V.J. Davison (Pharmacy), and Prof. V.M. Shalaev

Supported by: NSF, NASA, and InProteo LCC.

Metal-dielectric nano-structured composite materials, which can support various plasmon modes, open new avenues for manipulating light and sensing molecules [1-4]. Fundamentals of the optical properties of meso- and nano-structured plasmonic materials, both ordered and disordered, are studied in this project. Plasmonic nanomaterials allow the focusing of light in nanometer-scale areas, which act like highly efficient nano-antennas and nano-resonators. Thereby these nano-areas become "hot spots" - spatial domains where local light field strength can exceed the incident field strength by many orders of magnitude (see Figure). These and similar metal-dielectric nanostructured composite materials are employed for surface-enhanced spectroscopy and sensing molecules [1-4].

A protein sensor based on nanostructured adaptive silver films (ASFs) is developed for soft protein adsorption and surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) detection [4]. Under protein deposition, the ASFs modify their local nanostructure so that the chemical activity of proteins is preserved and SERS is optimized. The sensor is used to examine differences in Raman spectra of two insulin isomers, human insulin and its analog insulin lispro, which differ only in the interchange of two neighboring amino acids.

Direct, label-free detection of antibody-antigen binding at a monolayer protein concentration has been demonstrated, using SERS on ASFs. This includes evidence of distinct SERS spectral changes upon antigen binding as well as independent biochemical sandwich assay validation studies which confirm that the antibodies remain active on our ASF substrates. These results could lead to a number of promising bio-array substrates and detection applications that are different from current SERS or fluorescence based methods.

Keywords: surface-enhanced spectroscopy, proteomics, plasmonic nanomaterials, photonics.

Learn more:

[1]Vladimir M. Shalaev, "Optical Properties of Fractal Composites," Chapter in: Optical Properties of Random Nanostructures, Ed: Vladimir M. Shalaev, Springer Verlag, Topics in Applied Physics v.82, Berlin Heidelberg 2002.
[2]D.A. Genov, A.K. Sarychev, V.M. Shalaev, and A. Wei, Resonant Field Enhancement from Metal Nanoparticle Arrays, Nano Letters, 4, NL-0343710 (2004).
[3]V. P. Drachev, E. N. Khaliullin, W. Kim, F. Alzoubi, S. G. Rautian, V. P. Safonov, R. L. Atmstrong, and V. M. Shalaev, Quantum size effect in two-photon excited luminescence from silver nanoparticles, Phys. Rev. B 69, 035318-1-5 (2004)
[4]Vladimir P. Drachev, Mark Thoreson, Eldar N. Khaliullin, Dor Ben-Amotz, and Vladimir M. Shalaev, Semicontinuous metal films for protein sensing with SERS (invited presentation), SPIE Proceedings v. 5221, pp. 76-81, San Diego (2003).

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