The optical absorption spectra of trace chemical or biological molecules are typically very weak. Now, experts in material science, nano-optics and bio/chemical sensing have developed an optical device that is able to significantly enhance the absorption signal of trace molecules.
The collaborative team’s light-trapping structure can squeeze infrared light into sub-5-nm gaps with very high efficiency, resulting in a very strong localized light field. They then demonstrated an application of this “squeezed” light using surface-enhanced infrared absorption (SEIRA) spectroscopy. The sensor, which acts as a substrate for the materials being examined, was found to boost the ability of SEIRA devices to detect molecules at 100 to 1,000 times greater sensitivity than previously reported results.
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