Abstract

A high-sensitivity surface plasmon resonance (SPR) biosensor based on the Mach–Zehnder interferometer design is presented. The novel feature of the new design is the use of a Wollaston prism through which the phase quantities of the p and s polarizations are interrogated simultaneously. Since SPR affects only the p polarization, the signal due to the s polarization can be used as the reference. Consequently, the differential phase between the two polarizations allows us to eliminate all common-path phase noise while keeping the phase change caused by the SPR effect. Experimental results obtained from glycerin–water mixtures indicate that the sensitivity limit of our scheme is 5.5×10-8 refractive-index units per 0.01° phase change. To our knowledge, this is a significant improvement over previously obtained results when gold was used as the sensor surface. Such an improvement in the sensitivity limit should allow SPR biosensors to become a possible replacement for conventional biosensing techniques based on fluorescence. Monitoring of the bovine serum albumin (BSA) binding reaction with BSA antibodies is also demonstrated.

© 2004 Optical Society of America

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