Abstract

Metal films covered with ultrathin lossy dielectrics can exhibit strong interference effects manifested as the broad absorption of the incident light resulting in distinct surface colors. Despite their simple bilayer structures, such surfaces have only recently been scrutinized and applied mainly to color printing. Here, we report the use of such surfaces for colorimetric detection of ultrathin dielectrics. Upon deposition of a nanometer-thick dielectric on the surface, the absorption peak red shifts, changing the surface color. The color contrast between the bare and dielectric-coated surfaces can be detected by the naked eye. The optical responses of the surfaces are characterized for nanometer-thick SiO2, Al2O3, and bovine serum albumin molecules. The results suggest that strong interference surfaces can be employed as biosensors.

© 2018 Optical Society of America

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