Nanohole Arrays in Metal Films as Integrated Chemical Sensors and Biosensors

  • Alexandre G. Brolo
  • Reuven Gordon
  • David SintonEmail author
Part of the Springer Series on Chemical Sensors and Biosensors book series (SSSENSORS, volume 7)


Ordered arrays of subwavelength holes in optically thick metal films exhibit optical properties that may be exploited to achieve chemical and biological sensing. The fundamental phenomena governing these interactions, the sensing methodologies they enable, and the on-chip integration of nanohole array sensors are described in this chapter. The fundamental phenomena of confinement, or guiding of electromagnetic waves at a metal surface that are central to the sensing capabilities offered by nanohole arrays in metal films are described first. The fundamental basis for surface plasmon resonance on smooth planar metal-dielectric interfaces as well as the extension and localization of these phenomena to nanostructures is described. Nanohole-array-based sensing methodologies are discussed next. The extraordinary optical transmission through nanohole arrays is described with the application of that phenomenon to surface plasmon resonance-based sensing. Field localization, related to the surface plasmon excitation, enables surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) and surface-enhanced fluorescence spectroscopy (SEFS). The application of nanohole arrays in these sensing methodologies are described, as are recent efforts to further localize the electromagnetic field via overlapped double-hole structures. A selection of recently presented experimental results are highlighted throughout the chapter to demonstrate the relevant phenomena and sensing capabilities. In addition to the variety of sensing opportunities offered, both the small footprint of nanohole arrays and the simplified transmission mode operation at normal incidence are highly advantageous with respect to device-level miniaturization. Finally, the micro- and nanofluidic integration of nanohole-array-based sensors is discussed. Integration efforts to date, as well as future prospects for nanohole arrays in a lab-on-chip format and potential to exploit transport phenomena in these structures to the benefit of chemical and biological sensing applications, are described.


Nanohole array Surface plasmon resonance Optical sensing Chemical sensing Biosensing Microfluidic Nanofluidic Extraordinary optical transmission 



Attenuated total-internal reflection


Bovine serum albumin


Extraordinary optical transmission


Finite-difference time-domain


Focused ion beam


Localized surface plasmon




Mercaptoundecanoic acid


Refractive index unit


Resonance Raman


Surface enhanced fluorescence microscopy


Surface enhanced Raman scattering


Surface-enhanced resonance Raman scattering


Second harmonic generation


Surface plasmon


Surface plasmons polaritons


Surface plasmon resonance


Transverse magnetic



Relative permittivity of dielectric, metal


Permittivity of vacuum


Relative permittivity


Angular frequency of light


Angular plasma frequency


Speed of light in vacuum




Molecular diffusivity

\( \bar E \)

Electric field

\( \bar H \)

Magnetic field


Reaction rate constant


Refractive index


Effective refractive index





x, y, z

Coordinate directions



The authors are grateful for the financial support of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada, as well as the support from the BC Cancer Agency and Micralyne Inc. This work was also supported by equipment grants from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexandre G. Brolo
    • 1
  • Reuven Gordon
    • 2
  • David Sinton
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of ChemistryUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada
  2. 2.Department of Electrical and Computer EngineeringUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada
  3. 3.Department of Mechanical EngineeringUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada

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