Nanoplasmonic Sensors

CFDRC is working to develop a low-cost, portable, and reagent free detection system. The nanoplasmonics based sensor will detect trace levels of protein in body fluids (urine, blood). The technological core is a nanoslit structure within an optical scale metal film (gold or silver) that offers surface plasmon coupled optic extraordinary transmission at a defined wavelength (OET). Modifying the nanostructure surface with probes for specific biomolecules (self assembled monolayers), enables sensitively detecting the biological bound species at the surface due to the refractive index changes. The technology can also be readily adapted to numerous other usages, such as chemical and biological threat agent detection, simply by utilizing different self assembled monolayers.

The current CFDRC effort is designed to provide NASA a reusable on-chip nano-plasmonics based urine protein assay cartridge (PAC) that can be easily integrated with existing astrobiological instrumentation to monitor astronaut health during planetary exploration. Long-term exposure to microgravity and radiation during space exploration can pose a critical threat to the health of a flight crew. Real-time monitoring of urine protein levels is an effective way to follow the onset and progress of disease and guide the prompt selection of therapy.

a) nanoslit structure b) SP coupled E-field distribution by FDTD simulation, c) protein detection