Abstract

The design and optimization of straight long-range surface plasmon waveguides to maximize attenuation surface sensitivity in biochemical sensing applications are discussed. The sensor consists of a Au stripe embedded in CYTOP, with a microfluidic channel etched into the top cladding to expose the surface of the Au stripe and define the sensing channel. The attenuation $\alpha _{s}$ of the structure changes as a biological adlayer grows on the Au surface. The dimensions of the stripe (thickness, width), the sensing length and the refractive index of the sensing buffer were varied in order to understand their impact on sensor performance. The attenuation sensitivity ${\partial} \alpha _{s}/{\partial} a$ dominates over a wide range of waveguide designs, so we define a parameter $K = ({\partial} \alpha _{s}/{\partial} a)/\alpha _{s}$ where maximizing |K| and selecting the optimal sensing length as $L_{{\rm opt}} = 1/(2\alpha _{s})$ maximizes the overall sensitivity of the structure. Experimental results based on observing the physisorption of bovine serum albumin (BSA) on bare Au waveguides agree qualitatively and quantitatively with theory. Detection limits of $\Delta \Gamma _{{\rm min}} < 0.1$ pg·mm−2 are predicted for optimal designs, and a detection limit of $\Delta \Gamma _{{\rm min}} = 4.1 $ pg/mm2 (SNR = 1) is demonstrated experimentally for a sub-optimal structure.

© 2015 IEEE

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