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Opt Express. 2009 Nov 9;17(23):21191-204. doi: 10.1364/OE.17.021191.

Phase and amplitude sensitivities in surface plasmon resonance bio and chemical sensing.

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  • 1Laboratoire Lasers, Plasmas et Procédés Photoniques (LP3 UMR 6182 CNRS), Faculté des Sciences de Luminy, Université de Méditerranée, Case 917, 13288 Marseille, France.


We consider amplitude and phase characteristics of light reflected under the Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR) conditions and study their sensitivities to refractive index changes associated with biological and chemical sensing. Our analysis shows that phase can provide at least two orders of magnitude better detection limit due to the following reasons: (i) Maximal phase changes occur in the very dip of the SPR curve where the vector of probing electric field is maximal, whereas maximal amplitude changes are observed on the resonance slopes: this provides a one order of magnitude larger sensitivity of phase to refractive index variations; (ii) Under a proper design of a detection scheme, phase noises can be orders of magnitude lower compared to amplitude ones, which results in a much better signal-to-noise ratio; (iii) Phase offers much better possibilities for signal averaging and filtering, as well as for image treatment. Applying a phase-sensitive SPR polarimetry scheme and using gas calibration model, we experimentally demonstrate the detection limit of 10(-8) RIU, which is about two orders of magnitude better compared to amplitude-sensitive schemes. Finally, we show how phase can be employed for filtering and treatment of images in order to improve signal-to-noise ratio even in relatively noisy detection schemes. Combining a much better physical sensitivity and a possibility of imaging and sensing in micro-arrays, phase-sensitive methodologies promise a substantial upgrade of currently available SPR technology.

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