Metamaterial absorber was used for a background-suppressed surface-enhanced molecular detection technique. By utilizing the resonant coupling between plasmonic modes of a metamaterial absorber and infrared (IR) vibrational modes of a self-assembled monolayer (SAM), attomole level molecular sensitivity was experimentally demonstrated. IR absorption spectroscopy of molecular vibrations is of importance in chemical, material, medical science and so on, since it provides essential information of the molecular structure, composition, and orientation. In the vibrational spectroscopic techniques, in addition to the weak signals from the molecules, strong background degrades the signal-to-noise ratio, and suppression of the background is crucial for the further improvement of the sensitivity. Here, we demonstrate low-background resonant Surface enhanced IR absorption (SEIRA) by using the metamaterial IR absorber that offers significant background suppression as well as plasmonic enhancement. By using mask-less laser lithography technique, metamaterial absorber which consisted of 1D array of Au micro-ribbons on a thick Au film separated by a transparent gap layer made of MgF2 was fabricated. This metamaterial structure was designed to exhibit an anomalous IR absorption at ~ 3000 cm-1, which spectrally overlapped with C-H stretching vibrational modes. 16-Mercaptohexadecanoic acid (16-MHDA) was used as a test molecule, which formed a 2-nm thick SAM with their thiol head-group chemisorbed on the Au surface. In the FTIR measurements, the symmetric and asymmetric C-H stretching modes were clearly observed as reflection peaks within a broad plasmonic absorption of the metamaterial, and 1.8 attomole molecular sensitivity was experimentally demonstrated.
Takuo Tanaka, "Metamaterial absorber for molecular detection and identification (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10092, Laser-based Micro- and Nanoprocessing XI, 1009202 (Presented at SPIE LASE: January 31, 2017; Published: 21 April 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2256217.5389784794001.
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