The detection of a few molecules in a highly diluted solution is of paramount interest in fields including biomedicine, safety and eco-pollution in relation to rare and dangerous chemicals. Nanosensors based on plasmonics are promising devices in this regard, in that they combine the features of high sensitivity, label-free detection and miniaturization. However, plasmonic-based nanosensors, in common with general sensors with sensitive areas on the scale of nanometres, cannot be used directly to detect molecules dissolved in femto- or attomolar solutions. In other words, they are diffusion-limited and their detection times become impractical at such concentrations. In this Article, we demonstrate, by combining super-hydrophobic artificial surfaces and nanoplasmonic structures, that few molecules can be localized and detected even at attomolar (10-18 mol l-1) concentration. Moreover, the detection can be combined with fluorescence and Raman spectroscopy, such that the chemical signature of the molecules can be clearly determined.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics