Waveguide surface plasmon resonance biosensor
This thesis reports the design and development of the first waveguide surface plasmon resonance (SPR) biosensor for pesticide analysis. The integrated optical format allows the fabrication of a compact sensor that may be connected to optical fibre; necessary steps towards a portable optical biosensor. A major advantage of the integrated optical approach is the possibility of fabricating multiple sensors on one substrate, and hence testing for multiple analytes in one basic assay. The SPR structure incorporates a metal film that may be employed as an electrode to study the electrochemical control of sensing reactions. The performance of such devices requires analysis of the waveguide modes supported by the metal-clad waveguide, of their excitation by an input waveguide and of the resultant power coupled into an output waveguide. For the first time a rigorous numerical waveguide model to study the power transmission of such general multilayer absorbing structures has been developed. The model allows the determination of the modulation in output power of the sensor due to the adsorption of a thin organic layer to the sensor surface, which in turn leads to a measure of sensitivity. Designs for practical, sensitive, waveguide SPR sensors for an aqueous environment, optimised for specific sensing films are reported. The fabrication of gold-coated, potassium ion-exchanged, waveguide SPR sensors in soda-lime and Pyrex glass is reported. Three types of experiment were performed to validate the waveguide model using these devices. The first involved measuring changes in the output power of the sensor as a function of gold film length. The second measured the SPR response of sensors as a function of gold film parameters. Third, the effect on the SPR response of binding a dual layer of biotin-avidin to the sensor surface was observed as a function of gold film thickness. Predictions of the waveguide model were compared to the experimental data. Optimisation of the sensor design through these experimental procedures is also described. The transformation of the basic waveguide SPR sensor into a specific biosensor for the triazine herbicides simazine and atrazine is reported. The assay procedure was based on anti-simazine and anti-atrazine IgG antibodies and their Fab fragments developed by co-workers at GEC Marconi Materials Technology Ltd., UK Chemical modification of the sensor surface was developed by co-workers at the University of Tubingen, Germany, to bind the antibodies to the sensor surface. Laboratory characterisation of the sensor as a simazine sensor was performed and is reported in this thesis. Extended validation identified a detection limit of 0.22µg/l for the herbicide simazine in the aqueous environment. The biosensor gave a significant correlation with HPLC measurements on natural water samples when the cross-reactivity of the sensor with other triazine herbicides was taken into account.