Investigating Protein Adsorption via Spectroscopic Ellipsometry

  • Maria F. Mora
  • Jennifer L. Wehmeyer
  • Ron Synowicki
  • Carlos D. Garcia


In this chapter, the basic concepts behind ellipsometry and spectroscopic ellipsometry are discussed along with some instrument details. Ellipsometry is an optical technique that measures changes in the reflectance and phase difference between the parallel (R P) and perpendicular (R S) components of a polarized light beam upon reflection from a surface. Aside from providing a simple, sensitive, and nondestructive way to analyze thin films, ellipsometry allows dynamic studies of film growth (thickness and optical constants) with a time resolution that is relevant to biomedical research. The present chapter intends to introduce ellipsometry as an emerging but highly promising technique, that is useful to elucidate the interactions of proteins with solid surfaces. In this regard, particular emphasis is placed on experimental details related to the development of biomedically relevant conjugated surfaces. Results from our group related to adsorption of proteins to nanostructured materials, as well as results published by other research groups, are discussed to illustrate the advantages and limitations of the technique.


Optical Constant Optical Model Spectroscopic Ellipsometry Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Protein Layer 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Abbreviations and Symbols


Adsorbed amount

\({\rm d}\Gamma /{\rm dt}\)

Adsorption rate


Phase difference






Atomic force microscopy


Bovine serum albumin


Carbon nanotubes




d-amino acid oxidase


Direct current


Deoxyribonucleic acid


Effective medium approximation




Human serum albumin


Isoelectric point


Extinction coefficient


Refractive index


Parallel component of polarized light beam


Perpendicular component of polarized light beam


Sodium dodecyl sulfate


Spectroscopic ellipsometry





The authors would like to thank the Southwest Research Institute for proving access to their atomic force microscope. Financial support for this project was provided in part by The University of Texas at San Antonio, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)/National Institutes of Health (1SC3GM081085), and the Morrison Trust.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria F. Mora
    • 1
  • Jennifer L. Wehmeyer
    • 2
  • Ron Synowicki
    • 3
  • Carlos D. Garcia
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ChemistryThe University of Texas at San AntonioSan AntonioUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biomedical EngineeringThe University of Texas at San AntonioSan AntonioUSA
  3. 3.J. A. Woollam Co., IncLincolnUSA

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