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Biosensor breakthrough

A cross-disciplinary Lehigh bioengineering research team reported in the journal ACS Nanothat they've developed a new type of plasmonic biosensor that outperforms current nanoplasmonic devices by a factor of ten. According to coverage of the breakthrough in the NSF “LiveScience” news service, GigaOM, and other media outlets,the device can detect the presence of various proteins. It does so by propagating surface plasmon polaritons, or SPPs, along both surfaces of a metal skin. The skin has slits at either end to introduce and then measure the SPPs, as well as biomolecules that attract a specific protein attached to the top of the skin. A microscope measures the interference pattern created when the SPPs from the top and bottom surfaces rejoin. If targeted proteins bind with the biomolecules on the top of the skin, the SPP on top of the skin moves more slowly than the unobstructed SPP on the bottom. For more on the project, see “Moving toward ‘real-time’ detection of proteins” in the current issue of Lehigh Engineering’s Resolve magazine.

U.S. Department of Energy