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Waveguide surface plasmon resonance sensors
R.D.Harris & James S.Wilkinson
Guided-wave optical biosensors have great potential for use in the field of environmental monitoring. In particular, planar waveguide technologies offer the possibility of producing compact, monolithic, multisensor devices which may be connected to instrumentation using optical fibres, allowing remote operation. Optical evanescent field sensing techniques presently under investigation include grating couplers, waveguide interferometers and surface plasmon resonance (SPR) sensors. In the latter case, the surface plasmon is generally excited using a "bulk" optical component such as a prism, and equipment using this technique is now commercially available. One potential advantage of the SPR technique is that the metal film which supports the surface plasmon may also be used as an electrode for electrochemical control of sensing reactions. However, recent reports have indicated that the "bulk" SPR devices may not ultimately be as sensitive as fully guided-wave approaches such as the Mach-Zehnder interferometer. An alternative to the "bulk" SPR devices which has recently emerged is the use of distributed coupling between a dielectric waveguide and the surface plasmon mode in a metal-coated waveguide. This has the advantage of combining greater design flexibility and the potential for monolithic integration with the well-established technique of SPR. However, at present no adequate model for the performance of these devices exists. ...
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