Enhanced sensitivity of anti-symmetrically structured surface plasmon resonance sensors with zinc oxide intermediate layers

Nan Fu Chiu*, Yi Chen Tu, Teng Yi Huang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


We report a novel design wherein high-refractive-index zinc oxide (ZnO) intermediary layers are used in anti-symmetrically structured surface plasmon resonance (SPR) devices to enhance signal quality and improve the full width at half maximum (FWHM) of the SPR reflectivity curve. The surface plasmon (SP) modes of the ZnO intermediary layer were excited by irradiating both sides of the Au film, thus inducing a high electric field at the Au/ZnO interface. We demonstrated that an improvement in the ZnO (002) crystal orientation led to a decrease in the FWHM of the SPR reflectivity curves. We optimized the design of ZnO thin films using different parameters and performed analytical comparisons of the ZnO with conventional chromium (Cr) and indium tin oxide (ITO) intermediary layers. The present study is based on application of the Fresnel equation, which provides an explanation and verification for the observed narrow SPR reflectivity curve and optical transmittance spectra exhibited by (ZnO/Au), (Cr/Au), and (ITO/Au) devices. On exposure to ethanol, the anti-symmetrically structured showed a huge electric field at the Au/ZnO interface and a 2-fold decrease in the FWHM value and a 1.3-fold larger shift in angle interrogation and a 4.5-fold high-sensitivity shift in intensity interrogation. The anti-symmetrically structured of ZnO intermediate layers exhibited a wider linearity range and much higher sensitivity. It also exhibited a good linear relationship between the incident angle and ethanol concentration in the tested range. Thus, we demonstrated a novel and simple method for fabricating high-sensitivity, high-resolution SPR biosensors that provide high accuracy and precision over relevant ranges of analyte measurement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-187
Number of pages18
JournalSensors (Switzerland)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jan 1


  • Full width at half maximum (FWHM)
  • Intermediary layer
  • Surface plasmon resonance (SPR)
  • Zinc oxide (ZnO)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Information Systems
  • Biochemistry
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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