A concept for a measurement technique based on ellipsometry in conditions of total internal reflection is presented. When combined with surface plasmon resonance (SPR) effects, this technique becomes powerful for monitoring and analyzing adsorption and desorption on thin semitransparent metal films as well as for analyzing the semitransparent films themselves. We call this technique total internal reflection ellipsometry (TIRE). The theory of ellipsometry under total internal reflection combined with SPR is discussed for some simple cases. For more advanced cases and to prove the concept, simulations are performed with the Fresnel formalism. The use of TIRE is exemplified by applications in protein adsorption, corrosion monitoring, and adsorption from opaque liquids on metal surfaces. Simulations and experiments show greatly enhanced thin-film sensitivity compared with ordinary ellipsometry.
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