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Sens Actuators B Chem. 2009 Aug 18;141(1):227-232.

Characterization of a novel ultra low refractive index material for biosensor application.

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  • 1Department of Biological Engineering, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, USA.


Nanoporous materials can provide significant benefits to the field of biosensors. Their size and porous structure makes them an ideal tool for improving sensor performance. This study characterized a novel ultra low index of refraction nanoporous organosilicate (NPO) material for use as an optical platform for fluorescence-based optical biosensors. While serving as the low index cladding material, the novel coating based on organosilicate nanoparticles also provides an opportunity for a high surface area coating that can be utilized for immobilizing biological probes. Biological molecules were immobilized onto NPO, which was spin-coated on silicon and glass substrates. The biological molecule was composed of Protein A conjugated to AlexaFluor 546 fluorophore and then immobilized onto the NPO substrate via silanization. Sample analysis consisted of spectrofluorometry, FT-IR spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, contact angle measurement and ellipsometry. The results showed the presence of emission peaks at 574 nm, indicating that the immobilization of Protein A to the NPO material is possible. When compared to Si and glass substrates not coated with NPO, the results showed a 100X and 10X increase in packing density with the NPO coated films respectively. Ellipsometric analysis, FT-IR, contact angle, and SEM imaging of the surface immobilized NPO films suggested that while the surface modifications did induce some damage, it did not incur significant changes to its unique characteristics, i.e., pore structure, wettability and index of refraction. It was concluded that NPO films would be a viable sensor substrate to enhance sensitivity and improve sensor performance.

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