IAS Fellows' Seminar - Plasmonic biosensing at nanoscale: bright prospects or plethora of pitfalls
The surface wave, which first appeared more than a century ago as a “non-physical" solution of Maxwell's equations, is considered today as a kind of "panacea" for solving information transfer problems in nanophotonics and especially plasmonics. Despite the advances made in the understanding of surface waves and their widespread use in various elements and systems of modern technology, an ever-increasing number of investigators from various branches of science are showing interest in “surface-captured light”. This is mostly due to the discovered potential control of the localization and direction of propagation of an electromagnetic wave at the nanoscale: this creates new opportunities for local photoconversions in chemistry, nanosensors, active photonics elements etc.Indeed, depending on the shape and structure of the nano-object which limits the electronic "plasma" of the material, the following is possible: local accumulation of electromagnetic energy (local surface plasmon resonance, l-SPR), its ”gliding” along a nanostructured surface in the form of captured light (propagating SPR , p-SPR), etc.
In sensor equipment and analytical applications based on label-free technology, the most widely used are systems based on p-SPR, when “surface-captured light” is localized close to and propagated along the interface of two phases. The generation of an evanescent wave at the interface of a dielectric and an electronic plasma of noble metals involves partial transfer of the optical wave energy to a subsystem of surface plasmons: both the generation conditions of such excitations and their subsequent fate (propagation, thermalization, scattering, transformation into bulk waves, etc.) can be used to generate an analytical sensor signal. The varied uses of plasmonic biosensors show that surface electromagnetic waves represent a linking thread between the macro and nano worlds, making it possible to use a macro-transducer to investigate the molecular processes.
However, if we go beyond the use of SPR for the analysis of classical thin-film surface structures, both prospects and limitations of the use of physical phenomena associated with SPR are very little studied by researchers. In this little-explored area there are both bright achievements (such as, for example, adiabatic nano-focusing of light) and significant failures (analysis of bacterial cells). The purpose of the seminar is to discuss the prospects and limitations that can be foreseen in this area today. This will make it possible to answer the question as to which procedures for the interfacial design, measurement and calibration of SPR sensors can be used for advanced (bio)chemical measurements in order to obtain quantitative estimates of the parameters of the nanarchitectures in terms of mass or surface density. This in turn will enable the researcher to make a conscious judgment about the expediency of the practical use of a given SPR based approach, method, procedure, etc. to solve of a specific fundamental or practical problem.
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