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J Opt Soc Am A Opt Image Sci Vis. 2012 Jun 1;29(6):994-1002. doi: 10.1364/JOSAA.29.000994.

Theoretical limit of localized surface plasmon resonance sensitivity to local refractive index change and its comparison to conventional surface plasmon resonance sensor.

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GE Global Research Center, Niskayuna, New York 12309, USA.


In this paper, the theoretical sensitivity limit of the localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) to the surrounding dielectric environment is discussed. The presented theoretical analysis of the LSPR phenomenon is based on perturbation theory. Derived results can be further simplified assuming quasistatic limit. The developed theory shows that LSPR has a detection capability limit independent of the particle shape or arrangement. For a given structure, sensitivity is directly proportional to the resonance wavelength and depends on the fraction of the electromagnetic energy confined within the sensing volume. This fraction is always less than unity; therefore, one should not expect to find an optimized nanofeature geometry with a dramatic increase in sensitivity at a given wavelength. All theoretical results are supported by finite-difference time-domain calculations for gold nanoparticles of different geometries (rings, split rings, paired rings, and ring sandwiches). Numerical sensitivity calculations based on the shift of the extinction peak are in good agreement with values estimated by perturbation theory. Numerical analysis shows that, for thin (≤10 nm) analyte layers, sensitivity of the LSPR is comparable with a traditional surface plasmon resonance sensor and LSPR has the potential to be significantly less sensitive to temperature fluctuations.

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