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Sensors and Actuators B 54 (1999) 16 24

Surface plasmon resonance sensors based on diffraction gratings and prism couplers: sensitivity comparison
Jir' Homola a,*,1, Ivo Koudela b, Sinclair S. Yee a
b a Electrical Engineering Department, Uni6ersity of Washington, Seattle WA 98195, USA Institute of Radio Engineering and Electronics, Chaberska 57, 18251, Prague, Czech Republic

Abstract Theoretical analysis and comparison of the sensitivity of surface plasmon resonance (SPR) sensors using diffraction at gratings and attenuated total reection (ATR) in prism couplers for two detection methods-resonant angle interrogation and resonant wavelength interrogation is presented. Analytical expressions for sensitivity of these SPR sensors are derived and the inuence of the major design parameters of the sensing structures on the sensor sensitivity is discussed. The analysis shows that grating-based SPR sensors using wavelength interrogation are much less sensitive then their prism coupler-based counterparts. In the angular interrogation mode, the sensitivity of SPR sensors using diffraction gratings depends on the diffraction order and does not differ much from that of SPR sensors based on prism couplers. 1999 Elsevier Science S.A. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Optical sensors; Surface plasmon resonance; Refractive index

1. Introduction Historically, there have been two major approaches to optical excitation of surface plasma waves attenuated total reection in prism coupler-based structures and diffraction at diffraction gratings. The application of surface plasma waves excited by the attenuated total reection method for sensing has been pioneered by Nylander and Liedberg [1]. Particularly because of its relative simplicity, this method has been widely applied for characterization of thin lms [2,3] and (bio)chemical sensing [46]. This approach has been developed into commercial sensor systems. The use of diffraction grating-based systems for SPR sensing have been advocated by Cullen et al. [7]. Since then, grating-based surface plasmon resonance (SPR) sensors have been studied as an alternative to prism-based systems [8,9]. While the sensitivity of various prism-based SPR sensors has been analyzed [1012], systematic analysis of the sensitivity of grating-based SPR sensors has not yet been presented. This paper reports a theoretical analysis and

comparison of the sensitivity of both grating and prismbased SPR sensors, focusing on two basic sensor congurations in which either the resonant angle (angular interrogation) or the resonant wavelength (wavelength interrogation) is measured.

2. Surface plasma wave The propagation constant of a surface plasma wave (SPW) propagating at the interface between a metal and a dielectric can be expressed as: ( kSPW = k0

'

m mn 2 a mm + n 2 a

(1)

* Corresponding author. 1 On leave from Institute of Radio Engineering and Electronics, Chaberska 57, 18251 Prague, Czech Republic.

where k0 is the free space wavenumber of optical wave (k0 = 2y/u0 where u0 denotes the free space wavelength), mm is the dielectric constant of the metal, and na is the refractive index of the dielectric (analyte). The propagation constant of the SPW is complex because the dielectric constant of the metal is complex (mm = mmr + immi). It should be noted that the dielectric constant of metals depends strongly on the wavelength. For metals exhibiting high mmr/mmi ratio, the real part of the propagation constant of the SPW can be approximated by:

0925-4005/99/$ - see front matter 1999 Elsevier Science S.A. All rights reserved. PII: S 0 9 2 5 - 4 0 0 5 ( 9 8 ) 0 0 3 2 2 - 0

( kSPW = Re (kSPW)$ k0

'

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mmrn 2 a mmr +n 2 a

(2)

As the momentum of the SPW is always higher than that of a light wave in the dielectric (mmr B0), an SPW at a planar metal-dielectric interface cannot be excited directly by an optical wave from the dielectric.

3. Surface plasmon resonance sensors using prism couplers The method used in prism couplers to enhance the momentum of an optical wave to allow coupling to the SPW is the attenuated total reection (ATR) method [13]. In this method the optical wave is totally reected at the interface between a prism and a thin metal layer, evanescently penetrates through the metal layer and excites an SPW at the outer boundary of the metal layer (Fig. 1). The excitation of an SPW results in a drop in the intensity of the reected light. This may be observed as a dip in the angular or wavelength spectrum of the reected light. Assuming that presence of the prism coupler does not inuence considerably the properties of the SPW, which is a good approximation for rather thick metal layers ( \ 45 nm [12]), the coupling condition may be expressed as: kx = k0np sin (q)= k0

Fig. 2. The effective index of SPW as a function of the wavelength for SPW propagating along the metal (gold or silver) analyte interface for two different values of the refractive index of analyte. Normalized component of the wavevector for optical wave propagating in SF14 glass (incident on the metal layer at the angle 54) is shown to illustrate the fulllment of the coupling condition. Curve denoted as nef corresponds to the effective index of SPW calculated rigorously for system gold analyte with the refractive index 1.32.

'

mmrn 2 a mmr +n 2 a

(3)

where np is the refractive index of the prism coupler and q is the angle of incidence (in the prism). In Fig. 2 the dispersion relation for SPWs is illustrated (the effective index is dened as: nef =kSPW/k0). As follows from Fig. 2, the effective index of an SPW decreases with increasing wavelength, and the slope of the dispersion curve is higher at shorter wavelengths. The effective index of the SPW for systems with gold is always higher that that for systems with silver because the real part of the dielectric constant of gold is smaller than that of silver. By analyzing Eq. (3) one can conclude that the coupling condition is fullled only if mmr is higher than n 2 n 2/ p a (n 2 n 2) which corresponds to the resonant angles of p a

incidence qB 90. When wavelength decreases, mmr approaches this critical value and at certain (cut-off) wavelength, an SPW can no longer be excited. For wavelengths longer than the cut-off wavelength, the resonant angle increases with increasing analyte refractive index and decreases for small refractive index. The dispersion curves presented in Fig. 2 justify the validity of the approximation used in Eq. (2)if the propagation constant of the SPW is calculated rigorously as ( Re (kSPW), the dispersion curves differ only slightly from those calculated neglecting the imaginary part of the metal dielectric constant; slight difference can be observed at short wavelengths for gold and basically no difference can be observed for silver. Fig. 3(a) and (b) present simulated angular and spectral reectivity for a plane optical wave exciting a SPW by the attenuated total reection method calculated using Fresnel equations. The dips in reectivity due to resonant transfer of energy into the SPW can be clearly observed.

3.1. Sensiti6ity: angular interrogation


The expression for the sensitivity of the resonant angle to variations in the refractive index of analyte can be obtained by differentiating Eq. (3) in q and na: dq mmr
mmr = (4) 2 dna (mmr + n a)
mmr (n 2 n 2 ) n 2 n 2 a p p a Fig. 4 shows the angular sensitivity of a prism coupler-based SPR sensor calculated using Eq. (4). The sensitivity exhibits high values at short wavelengths. In this region of the spectrum, the sensitivity is governed by a singularity occurring when mmr = n 2 n 2/(n 2 n 2). p a p a For long wavelengths, the sensitivity does not vary SPq =

Fig. 1. Scheme of excitation of SPW using a prism coupler and the attenuated total reection method.

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considerably with wavelength. If an angular SPR sensing device operates far from the cut-off, the sensitivity can be approximately expressed as: S Pq $S + = Pq 1
(n n 2) a
2 p

(5)

Therefore, the sensitivity at longer wavelengths depends mainly on the refractive index contrast between the prism and the analyte and increases with decreasing contrast. Apparently, the inuence of the optical constants of the metal supporting SPW is more pronounced at short wavelengths near the singularity in sensitivity. As in systems which use metals with lower mmr the singularity occurs at longer wavelengths, the sensitivity of structures using gold is higher than that of systems using silver.

Fig. 4. The angular sensitivity versus the wavelength for system: prism coupler (SF14 or BK7 glass) metal (gold or silver) analyte (na =1.32) and the approximate sensitivity formula for the wavelengths far from cut-off (dotted line). Exact sensitivity calculated numerically using Fresnel equations (crosses) for a sensing structure with an SF 14 prism coupler and the gold layer 50 nm thick shown for comparison.

3.2. Sensiti6ity: wa6elength interrogation


For congurations of prism-based SPR sensors in which the angle of incidence is xed and a shift in the resonant wavelength due to variations in the refractive index of analyte is to be measured, the spectral sensitivity can be obtained by differentiating Eq. (3) in u and na which yields: SPu = du m2 mr = 3 dna n a dmmr dn n + (mmr + n 2) mmr p a a 2 du du np

) )

(6)

Fig. 3. (a) Reectivity as a function of the angle of incidence calculated for two different operation wavelengths and two different refractive indices of analyte. Conguration, SF14 glass prism couplergold (50 nm thick) analyte. (b) Reectivity as a function of the wavelength calculated for two different angles of incidence and two different refractive indices of analyte. Conguration, SF14 glass prism coupler gold (50 nm thick)analyte.

Fig. 5. Sensitivity of the prism coupler-based SPR sensor using the wavelength interrogation as a function of the wavelength for system, prism coupler (SF14 or BK7 glass) metal (gold or silver) analyte (na =1.32) and the approximate formula for the sensitivity (dotted line). Exact sensitivity calculated numerically using Fresnel equations (crosses) for a sensing structure with an SF 14 prism coupler and the gold layer 50 nm thick shown for comparison.

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The above expression is a more general formulation for spectral sensitivity than that published in [12]. Fig. 5 shows that the sensitivity of spectral prism-based SPR sensors increases rapidly with the wavelength. The denominator of Eq. (6) consists of two terms of opposite signs. As the material dispersion is small for commonly used glasses and the considered wavelength range ( dnp/ du B 10 4), the second term is usually smaller than the rst term, especially at short wavelengths, when mmr is small. At very short wavelengths, we can neglect the second term in the denominator and Eq. (6) may be reduced into: 2m 2 mr (7) dmmr 3 na du As shown in Fig. 5, this approximation provides results which agree very well with Eq. (6) at short wavelengths, but predicts a considerably lower sensitivity for longer wavelengths. This is because the absolute value of the second term in the denominator in Eq. (6) increases with wavelength faster than the absolute value of the rst term, causing the whole denominator to decrease with wavelength much more rapidly than the rst term alone. Therefore at long wavelengths the spectral sensitivity SPu increases with the wavelength much faster than predicted by Eq. (7). With increasing wavelength, the denominator in Eq. (6) approaches zero leading to SPu . The wavelength at which the singularity in SPu occurs increases with decreasing mmr and increasing the prism refractive index; Fig. 5. As at longer wavelengths the presence of the singularity governs the sensitivity behavior, the sensitivity of spectral prism-based SPR sensors increases with increasing mmr , and decreasing contrast between the refractive index of the prism coupler and the analyte. SPu $S + = Pu

) )

Fig. 6. Schematic of diffraction of light at the surface of a diffraction grating.

wavevector of the diffracted optical wave. Assuming the dispersion properties of the SPW are not disturbed by the grating, the momentum conservation for an optical wave exciting an SPW via a diffraction grating may be rewritten as: nasin (q)+ m u =9 L

'

mmrn 2 a mmr + n 2 a

(9)

4. Surface plasmon resonance sensors using diffraction gratings The momentum of an optical wave can be increased to match that of a surface plasma wave by diffraction at a diffraction grating (Fig. 6). A light beam incident on a periodically distorted surface of a diffraction grating is split into series of beams directed away from the surface [14]. If the grooves of a diffraction grating are oriented perpendicular to the plane of incidence b (Fig. 6), the component of the wavevector k of the diffracted light parallel to the interface is altered in the following fashion: kx + mG = k% m x (8)

where m is an integer, kx is the component of the wavevector of the incident light along the grating surface, G is the grating wavevector, and k% m is the x

where q is the angle of incidence of the optical wave, \ denotes the pitch of the grating (G= 2y/L). When Eq. (9) is satised, a SPW will be excited by the incoming optical wave. Similar to prism coupler-based SPR sensing structures, the resonant transfer of optical energy into an SPW may be observed as a dip in the angular or wavelength spectrum of reected light. As the rst term on the left side of Eq. (9) can be shown to be always smaller than the term on the right side of the equation, the resonance condition can be fullled only if the second term on the left side and the term on the right side of the equation are both either negative or positive. Therefore sign + corresponds to diffracted waves of orders m\ 0 and sign corresponds to diffracted waves of orders mB 0. Fig. 7 illustrates the matching condition (Eq. (9)) between an optical wave and an SPW in grating-based structures. Fig. 8 presents the resonant angle of incidence of the optical wave as a function of the wavelength. For the rst-order mode of the diffraction grating, the angle at which the resonant excitation of the SPW occurs decreases with increasing wavelength, and is higher for diffraction gratings with a higher pitch. The second-order mode of the grating behaves in the opposite fashion. Fig. 9 illustrates the effect of a change in the refractive index of the analyte. An increase in this refractive index gives rise to a shift in the dispersion curves to longer wavelengths for the rst diffraction order and to shorter wavelengths for the second diffraction order. Fig. 10(a) and (b) show the angle and wavelength dependence of reectivity for a model grating-based SPR system. These results were computed using the rigorous coupled-wave theory [17].

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Fig. 7. The effective index of SPW as a function of the wavelength for SPW propagating along a gold coated grating (L= 800 nm) in the x and x directions and normalized component of the wavevector of optical waves (OW) for the rst and the second order of diffraction.

Fig. 9. Resonant angle of incidence as a function of the wavelength for gold coated grating (L = 800 nm) and two different refractive indices of analyte.

This approach is based on decomposition of the surface-relief grating into a large number of thin layers perpendicular to z-axis (Fig. 6). The eld inside each thin layer is expressed in terms of modes inhomogeneous plane waves propagating in distinct directions. The wave equation for the eld vectors leads to a set of second-order coupled differential equations. This set may be solved by using a state-variables method of solution yielding an ordinary matrix equation. The next computational step involves application of electromagnetic boundary conditions to each boundary between the outside medium and the neighboring layer of the grating as well as between the neighboring layers themselves. From the resulting set of equations the desired amplitudes of the reected and transmitted waves are determined. For the considered shallow grating (grating depth 70 nm) we approximated the sinusoidal prole of

the grating by 20 layers which had been proven to be a sufcient number for this grating. As follows from Fig. 10, the model grating coupler allows for efcient excitation of SPW by the rst diffraction order while the excitation of SPW by the second diffraction order is rather weak. The position of the SPR dips is in a good agreement with the theoretical predictions (Fig. 8).

4.1. Sensiti6ity: angular interrogation


Sensitivity of the resonant angle of grating-based SPR sensors to variations in the analyte refractive index can be determined by differentiating Eq. (9) in q and na as before. This results in: mmr dq 1 SGq = = 9 dna na cos (q) mmr + n 2 a

 

3 2

sin (q)

(10)

Fig. 8. Resonant angle of incidence as a function of the wavelength for gold-coated gratings with four different pitches, refractive index of analyte is 1.32.

where the resonant angle of incidence q is governed by Eq. (9). This expression for the angular sensitivity has been previously derived by Nikitin et al., but was not applied correctly to their sensing structure [15] (if the analyte is not in contact with the grating coupler, but is held separately in a cuvette while an SPW is actually excited at a metal-air interface, the sensitivity of such a sensing conguration is governed by the expression similar to Eq. (10), but without the 3/2 power term). Fig. 11 shows the angular sensitivity as a function of wavelength. It can be deduced from Fig. 7 that when an SPW is excited using the rst diffraction order of the grating, the resonant angle exhibits higher sensitivity to variations in the refractive index of the analyte at short wavelengths (higher angles of incidence Fig. 8). Through most of the considered spectral range, the angular sensitivity for the rst diffraction order increases with increasing wavelength and decreasing grating pitch. Similarly, the angular sensitivity for the second diffraction order is higher at short wavelengths (higher angles of incidence) and increases with decreas-

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Fig. 10. (a) Reectivity as a function of the angle of incidence calculated for two different operation wavelengths and two different refractive indices of analyte. Conguration, gold-coated grating (grating depth 70 nm, grating pitch 800 nm) analyte. (b) Reectivity as a function of the wavelength calculated for two different angles of incidence and two different refractive indices of analyte. Conguration: gold-coated grating (grating depth 70 nm, grating pitch 800 nm)analyte.

ing grating pitch. Excluding angles approaching grazing incidence which are difcult to use in practical SPR sensing devices, angular sensitivity increases with diffraction order (Fig. 9).

5. Discussion As show in the presented simulations (Figs. 4, 5, 11 and 12), the analytical expressions for sensitivity of prism and grating-based SPR sensors provide results which agree well with the rigorous approaches (Fresnel theory, coupled-wave theory). While the sensitivity of an angular or wavelength interrogation-based SPR sensing device can be reliably predicted, sensor resolution depends on the sensitivity but also on the accuracy with which a specic feature of SPR (resonant angle, resonant wavelength) can be determined by an SPR sensing system. This accuracy depends mainly on the ability of the optical system to establish a solid interaction between an SPW and an optical wave and provide correct angular or wavelength SPR spectra, and on the noise properties of the optoelectronic system. If we assume that a linear array of photodetectors is used to detect (angular or wavelength) optical spectrum and the number of detection elements covering the SPR dip is high enough not to limit the resolution, we may assume that the accuracy with which a position of the SPR dip may be determined is inversely proportional to the width of the SPR dip. In order to compare the potential resolution of different congurations of SPR sensing devices, we introduce the parameter dened by =S/ w where w and S denote the full-width-half-maximum of an SPR dip and the sensitivity, respectively. SPR sensing congurations exhibiting higher are capable of higher resolution. We calculate values for specic sensing congurations estimating the halfwidth of SPR dips from theoretical reectivity dependences in Figs. 3 and 10. SPR sensors using angular interrogation in prism and grating coupler-based congurations exhibit several similar features. Their sensitivity is very high for a

4.2. Sensiti6ity: wa6elength interrogation


Sensitivity of the resonant wavelength to variations in the refractive index of analyte can be determined by differentiating Eq. (9) in u and na which yields: mu mmr n2 a + 2 mmr +n a mmr +n 2 du naL a = SGu = dna m n3 dmmr a + 3 L du 2 2
mmr mmr +n 2 a

'

(11)

It can be shown that at longer wavelengths the second terms in the numerator and the denominator (Eq. (11)) are much smaller then the corresponding rst terms. Therefore for longer wavelengths Eq. (11) can be reduced to:
+ SGu $ SGu =

u na

(12)

As shown in Fig. 12, this approximate expression agrees well with Eq. (11) for longer wavelengths. At shorter wavelengths, the behavior of the spectral sensitivity of grating-based SPR sensors is more complex. Generally, the sensitivity increases with the wavelength and appears to be only weakly dependent on the diffraction order. Eq. (12) shows that the spectral sensitivity of grating-based spectral SPR sensors is also rather insensitive to variations in mmr and decreases with increasing refractive index of analyte.

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Fig. 11. Angular sensitivity versus the wavelength for gold-coated diffraction gratings with four different pitches, refractive index of analyte is 1.32. Exact sensitivity calculated numerically using the rigorous coupled-mode theory (diamonds: rst diffraction order; squares: second diffraction order) for a sensing structure with a gold-coated diffraction grating (grating depth 70 nm, grating pitch 800 nm) shown for comparison.

limited range of wavelengths (and analyte refractive index) when the angle of incidence of the incident optical wave approaches grazing incidence. In prismbased structures this occurs at short wavelengths, while grating-based structure exhibit more complex behavior (Fig. 9). Excluding the neighborhood of grazing incidence, the prism and grating-based SPR sensors using angular interrogation exhibit similar sensitivities depending on the refractive index contrast between the prism coupler and the analyte in prism-based systems and the diffraction order in grating-based systems. For example, the sensitivity of a grating-based SPR sensor using a diffraction grating with the pitch of 800 nm operating in the rst diffraction order is lower by a factor of 2 than that of a prism-based system using an SF14 glass prism coupler; in the second diffraction order the same grating-based system exhibits about the

same sensitivity (at the wavelength of 630 nm) and by about 10% higher sensitivity (at the wavelength of about 850 nm) than the prism-based system. The higher sensitivity at shorter wavelengths is accompanied by a considerable broadening of the SPR dip mainly because of a higher attenuation of the SPW due to loss in the metal layer [Fig. 3(a), Fig. 10(a)] which generally results in a lower resolution in determining the resonant angle of incidence. Angular interrogation-based SPR sensors exhibit much higher values at longer wavelengths. For, u= 630 nm, = 15 RIU 1 (prism-based system) and 11 RIU 1 (grating-based system, the rst diffraction order), u= 850 nm, = 83 RIU 1 (prism-based system) and 48 RIU 1 (grating-based system, the rst diffraction order). In the wavelength region far from the cut-off wavelength the sensitivity of prism-based SPR sensing devices using angular interrogation does

Fig. 12. Spectral sensitivity versus the wavelength for gold-coated diffraction grating with four different pitches, refractive index of analyte is 1.32. Exact sensitivity calculated numerically using the rigorous coupled-mode theory (circles: rst diffraction order; triangles: second diffraction order) for a sensing structure with a gold-coated diffraction grating (grating depth 70 nm, grating pitch 800 nm) shown for comparison.

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not depend much on the optical parameters of the metal layer, and gold-based systems exhibit slightly higher sensitivity than those using silver, in agreement with [16]. However, silver-based systems are likely to attain a higher ultimate sensor resolution because they exhibit much narrower SPR dips than gold-based systems, allowing for a more accurate determination of the resonant angle of incidence. SPR sensors using wavelength interrogation in prism and grating-based congurations exhibit considerably higher sensitivity at longer wavelengths. Grating-based SPR sensors using wavelength interrogation are far less sensitive (more than an order of magnitude) than those based on prism couplers. The cause for this lies in dramatically different spectral properties of prism and grating couplers. In contrast to prism couplers which are only weakly dispersive due to the material dispersion, grating couplers exhibit strong dispersion (inversely proportional to the grating period) which causes the diffracted optical wave momentum to increase dramatically with wavelength. This suggests that a much smaller wavelength shift is needed to compensate for a change in the momentum of an SPW caused by a change in the refractive index of analyte (compare Figs. 2 and 7). A higher sensitivity of prism-based SPR systems using wavelength interrogation attainable at longer wavelengths is accompanied by a broadening of SPR dips [Fig. 3(b)]. This broadening is caused by the fact that the difference in the effective refractive index of the SPW and the incident optical wave depends on the wavelength only slightly and strong interaction between the optical wave and the SPW occurs within a broader wavelength range. This effect is partly compensated for by a natural narrowing of SPR dips at long wavelengths due to a lower attenuation of the SPW. The values of for SPR sensors based on wavelength interrogation have been found as follows, u =630 nm, =16 RIU 1 (prismbased system) and 11 RIU 1 (grating-based system, the rst diffraction order), u =850 nm, = 108 RIU 1 (prism-based system) and 48 RIU 1 (grating-based system, the rst diffraction order). This indicates that considerably higher resolution may be attained when SPR sensors based on wavelength interrogation operate at longer wavelengths. Similar to angular interrogationbased SPR sensing systems, sensing congurations using prism coupling provide higher resolution (higher values) than those with gratings. The sensitivity of prismbased SPR sensors using wavelength interrogation may be improved by substituting gold with silver which has larger real part of the dielectric constant. This would enhance the sensor sensitivity especially at longer wavelengths [12] and provide sharper SPR dips allowing a more accurate determination of the resonant wavelength. As the sensitivity of prism-based SPR sensors using wavelength interrogation depends considerably on the

metal layers optical constants, which are very sensitive to parameters of deposition and usually are not known accurately, the experimentally observed sensitivities may differ from the theoretical predictions. Both angular and wavelength interrogation-based SPR sensors using prism coupling would benet from the use of rather low refractive index prism couplers. In practice this may be more feasible in angular interrogation-based systems with a convergent optical beam. In the wavelength interrogation-based SPR sensing devices using collimated light beams, a low refractive index of the prism coupler leads to a higher angle of incidence and possibly to a too extended sensing area.

6. Conclusions Theoretical analysis and comparison of the sensitivity of SPR sensors based on prism and grating couplers using wavelength and angular interrogation detection methods have been presented. Analytical expressions for the sensitivity of SPR sensors have been derived. Interrelating the sensor sensitivity with specic parameters of SPR sensing structures, these expressions allow better understanding of the roles the design parameters play in the sensitivity of SPR sensors and more efcient optimization of SPR sensing structures. This study has revealed that wavelength interrogation-based SPR sensors using prism couplers provide much better sensitivity than their grating-based counterparts, while angular interrogation-based SPR sensors using prism and grating couplers exhibit comparable sensitivities. Prism-based SPR sensors using wavelength interrogation appear to provide the best resolution and to have most exibility for further optimization, particularly in terms of the choice of the operation wavelength range. Although the presented theoretical analysis focuses on the sensitivity of SPR sensing devices to variations in the refractive index of bulk materials, the sensitivity comparison of different congurations of SPR sensing devices is valid in a more general sense. Perturbation theory suggests that presence of a thin lm on the metal layer contributes to the propagation constant of the SPW by a small term which depends on the distribution of electromagnetic eld of the SPW and the parameters of the thin lm [18]. As, at a xed wavelength, the eld distribution depends solely on properties of the metal and the dielectric at the interface of which the SPW propagates, the relationships between bulk sensitivities of SPR sensors based on prism and grating couplers and angular and wavelength interrogation also hold for thin lm sensors.

Acknowledgements This research was supported by the Defense Advanced

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J. Homola et al. / Sensors and Actuators B 54 (1999) 1624 [8] M.J. Jory, G.W. Bradberry, P.S. Cann, J.R. Sambles, A surfaceplasmon-based optical sensor using acousto-optics, Measurement Sci. Technol. 6 (1995) 1193 1200. [9] C.R. Lawrence, N.J. Geddes, D.N. Furlong, J.R. Sambles, Surface plasmon resonance studies of immunoreactions utilizing disposable diffraction gratings, Biosens. Bioelectron. 11 (1996) 389 400. [10] R.P.H. Kooyman, H. Kolkman, J. van Gent, J. Greve, Surface plasmon resonance immunosensors: sensitivity considerations, Anal. Chim. Acta 213 (1988) 35 45. [11] E.M. Yeatman, Resolution and sensitivity in surface plasmon microscopy and sensing, Biosens. Bioelectron. 11 (1996) 635 649. [12] J. Homola, On the sensitivity of surface plasmon resonance sensors with spectral interrogation, Sensors and Actuators B 41 (1997) 207 211. [13] H. Raether, Surface plasmons on smooth and rough surfaces and on gratings, 111, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 1988. [14] M.C. Hutley, Diffraction gratings, Academic Press, London, 1982. [15] P.I. Nikitin, A.A. Beloglazov, A multi-purpose sensor based on surface plasmon polariton resonance in a Schottky structure, Sensors and Actuators A 41 42 (1994) 547 552. [16] H.E. de Bruijn, B.S.F. Altenburg, R.P.H. Kooyman, J. Greve, Choice of metal and wavelength for surface-plasmon resonance sensors: some considerations, Appl. Opt. 31 (1992) 440 442. [17] M.G. Moharam, T.K. Gaylord, Rigorous coupled-wave analysis of metallic surface-relief gratings, J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 3 (1986) 1780 1787. [18] O. Parriaux, G. Voirin, Plasmon wave versus dielectric waveguiding for surface wave sensing, Sensors and Actuators A23 (1990) 1137 1141.

Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under contract DAAL01-96-K-3614, by the Center for Process Analytical Chemistry at the University of Washington and partly also by the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic under contracts 102/96/1561 and 303/96/1358.

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