Author's School

School of Engineering & Applied Science

Author's Department/Program

Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science


English (en)

Date of Award

Summer 9-1-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Srikanth Singamaneni


The time varying electric field of electromagnetic (EM) radiation causes oscillation of conduction electrons of metal nanoparticles. The resonance of such oscillation, termed localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR), falls into the visible spectral region for noble metals such as gold, silver and copper. LSPR of metal nanostructures is sensitive to numerous factors such as composition, size, shape, dielectric properties of surrounding medium, and proximity to other nanostructures (plasmon coupling). The sensitivity of LSPR to the refractive index of surrounding medium renders it an attractive platform for chemical and biological sensing. When the excitation light is in resonance with the plasmon frequency of the metal nanoparticle, it radiates a characteristic dipolar radiation causing a characteristic spatial distribution in which certain areas show higher EM field intensity, which is manifested as electromagnetic field enhancement. Surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) involves dramatic enhancement of the intensity of the Raman scattering from the analyte adsorbed on or in proximity to a nanostructured metal surface exhibiting such strong EM field enhancement. Both LSPR and SERS have been widely investigated for highly sensitive and label-free chemical & biological sensors.

Most of the SERS/LSPR sensors demonstrated so far rely on rigid planar substrates (e.g., glass, silicon) owing to the well-established lithographic approaches, which are routinely employed for either fabrication or assembly of plasmonic nanotransducers. In many cases, their rigid nature results in low conformal contact with the sample and hence poor sample collection efficiency. We hypothesized that paper substrates are an excellent alternative to conventional rigid substrates to significantly improve the (multi-)functionality of LSPR/SERS substrates, dramatically simplify the fabrication procedures and lower the cost. The choice of paper substrates for the implementation of SERS/LSPR sensors is rationalized by numerous advantages such as (i) high specific surface area resulting in large dynamic range (ii) excellent wicking properties for rapid uptake and transport of analytes to test domains (iii) compatibility with conventional printing approaches, enabling multi-analyte plasmonic sensors (iv) significant reduction in cost (v) smaller sample volume requirement (vi) easy disposability.

In this work, we have introduced novel SERS and LSPR substrates based on conventional filter paper decorated with plasmonic nanostructures, called plasmonic paper. A flexible SERS substrate based on common filter paper adsorbed with gold nanostructures allows conformal contact with real-world surfaces, enabling rapid trace detection. To realize multifunctional SERS substrates, paper substrates were cut into star-shaped structures and the fingers were differentially functionalized with polyelectrolytes that allows separation and pre-concentration of different components of a complex sample in a small surface area by taking advantage of the properties of cellulose paper and shape-enhanced capillary effect. Plasmonic paper can also serve as a novel LSPR biosensing platform by decorating the paper substrate with biofunctionalized nanostructures. Furthermore, calligraphy approach was employed to create well-isolated test domains on paper substrates using functionalized plasmonic nanostructures as ink for multiplexed chemical sensing and label-free biosensing. These plasmonic paper substrates exhibit excellent sample collection efficiency and do not require complex fabrication processes. This class of substrates is expected to have applications not only to first responders and military personal but also to several areas of medical, food analysis, and environmental research.


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