Plasmonic substrates have fixed sensitivity once the geometry of the structure is defined. In order to improve the sensitivity, significant research effort has been focused on designing new plasmonic structures, which involves high fabrication costs; however, a method is reported for improving sensitivity not by redesigning the structure but by simply assembling plasmonic nanoparticles (NPs) near the evanescent field of the underlying 3D plasmonic nanostructure. Here, a nanoscale Lycurgus cup array (nanoLCA) is employed as a base colorimetric plasmonic substrate and an assembly template. Compared to the nanoLCA, the NP assembled nanoLCA (NP-nanoLCA) exhibits much higher sensitivity for both bulk refractive index sensing and biotin-streptavidin binding detection. The limit of detection of the NP-nanoLCA is at least ten times smaller when detecting biotin-streptavidin conjugation. The numerical calculations confirm the importance of the additive plasmon coupling between the NPs and the nanoLCA for a denser and stronger electric field in the same 3D volumetric space. Tunable sensitivity is accomplished by controlling the number of NPs in each nanocup, or the number density of the hot spots. This simple yet scalable and cost-effective method of using additive heterogeneous plasmon coupling effects will benefit various chemical, medical, and environmental plasmon-based sensors.
- heterogeneous plasmon coupling
- label-free sensing
- nanocup arrays
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science(all)