Layered material platform for surface plasmon resonance biosensing
Abstract: Plasmonic biosensing has emerged as the most sensitive label-free technique to detect various molecular species in solutions and has already proved crucial in drug discovery, food safety and studies of bio-reactions. This technique relies on surface plasmon resonances in ~50 nm metallic films and the possibility to functionalize the surface of the metal in order to achieve selectivity. At the same time, most metals corrode in bio-solutions, which reduces the quality factor and darkness of plasmonic resonances and thus the sensitivity. Furthermore, functionalization itself might have a detrimental effect on the quality of the surface, also reducing sensitivity. Here we demonstrate that the use of graphene and other layered materials for passivation and functionalization broadens the range of metals which can be used for plasmonic biosensing and increases the sensitivity by 3-4 orders of magnitude, as it guarantees stability of a metal in liquid and preserves the plasmonic resonances under biofunctionalization. We use this approach to detect low molecular weight HT-2 toxins (crucial for food safety), achieving phase sensitivity~0.5 fg/mL, three orders of magnitude higher than previously reported. This proves that layered materials provide a new platform for surface plasmon resonance biosensing, paving the way for compact biosensors for point of care testing.