Nanoplasmonic Biosensors compatible with Artificial Cell Membranes

Sammanfattning: Within life science, there is currently an intense search for novel techniques that enable efficient and reliable analysis of biomolecular interactions. Such methods have future applications within medical diagnostics and drug development, as well as within proteomic research in general. Lately, several concepts have emerged that are based on monitoring molecular binding to surfaces via optical, mechanical or electrical signal transduction. In particular, the plasmons associated with metallic nanoparticles are of interest since they offer a convenient way to monitor biomolecular interactions, also in a miniaturized format, by optical spectroscopy. This thesis describes the development of a biosensor based on the optical properties of nanoscale apertures in continuous metal films. The fabrication and characterization of the nanostructure is described, as well as surface modification protocols based on thiol chemistry for material-specific functionalization. In addition, an experimental setup for spectroscopy is presented together with data analysis algorithms for minimizing noise. It is emphasized that, from an experimental sensing perspective, nanoholes and nanoparticles have essentially the same plasmonic properties. However, the nanoholes offer several advantages because of the fact that the structure is physically different. In particular, it is shown how various artificial cell membranes can be spontaneously formed inside nanoholes. This makes the sensor compatible with studies of processes related to biological membranes. In this context, membrane-bound proteins are of special interest since they constitute a third of our genome and represent the target of half of the most common medical drugs. Potential future applications of the artificial membranes on the plasmonic nanostructures are discussed, with focus on probing transport across the membrane.

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