A new sensor based on optical surface waves in truncated one-dimensional photonic crystals is proposed for use in determining the optical properties of metallic or dielectric thin films and bulk media. Specifically, the method of optical characterization takes into account the changes that the surface waves of a layered structure undergo when either a thin film of arbitrary material is added at the surface or the optical properties of transmission medium change. For the surface-wave excitation the Kretschmann configuration used in attenuated total reflectance is employed.
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