Year of Publication

2009

Degree Name

Master of Science in Electrical Engineering (MSEE)

Document Type

Thesis

College

Engineering

Department

Electrical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. J. Todd Hastings

Abstract

Surface plasmons are bound TM polarized electromagnetic waves that propagate along the interface of two materials with real dielectric constants of opposite signs. Surface plasmon resonance (SPR) sensors make use of the surface plasmon waves to detect refractive index changes occurring near this interface. For sensing purposes, this interface typically consists of a metal layer, usually gold or silver, and a liquid dielectric. SPR sensors usually measure the shift in resonance wavelength or resonance angle due to index changes adjacent to the metal layer. However this restricts the limit of detection (LOD), as the regions of low slope (intensity vs. wavelength or angle) in the SPR curve contain little information about the resonance. This work presents the technique of tunable laser interrogation of SPR sensors. A semiconductor laser with a typical lasing wavelength of 650nm was used. A 45nm gold layer sputtered on a BK7 glass substrate served as the sensor. The laser wavelength is tuned to always operate in the region of highest slope by using a custom-designed LabVIEW program. It is shown that the sensitivity is maximized and LOD is minimized by operating around the region of high slope on the SPR curve.

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