Thursday, August 25, 2016

Abstract-Metamaterial-enhanced vibrational absorption spectroscopy for the detection of protein molecules

From visible to mid-infrared frequencies, molecular sensing has been a major successful application of plasmonics because of the enormous enhancement of the surface electromagnetic nearfield associated with the induced collective motion of surface free carriers excited by the probe light. However, in the lower-energy terahertz (THz) region, sensing by detecting molecular vibrations is still challenging because of low sensitivity, complicated spectral features, and relatively little accumulated knowledge of molecules. Here, we report the use of a micron-scale thin-slab metamaterial (MM) architecture, which functions as an amplifier for enhancing the absorption signal of the THz vibration of an ultrathin adsorbed layer of large organic molecules. We examined bovine serum albumin (BSA) as a prototype large protein molecule and Rhodamine 6G (Rh6G) and 3,3′-diethylthiatricarbocyanine iodide (DTTCI) as examples of small molecules. Among them, our MM significantly magnified only the signal strength of bulky BSA. On the other hand, DTTCI and Rh6G are inactive, as they lack low-frequency vibrational modes in this frequency region. The results obtained here clearly demonstrate the promise of MM-enhanced absorption spectroscopy in the THz region for detection and structural monitoring of large biomolecules such as proteins or pathogenic enzymes.

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