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Princeton engineers make breakthrough in ultra-sensitive sensor technology
Date:3/21/2011

enhance the outgoing Raman signal.

The Chou's team named their new sensor "disk-coupled dots-on-pillar antenna-array" or D2PA, for short.

So far, the chip is a billion times (109) more sensitive than was possible without SERS boosting of Raman signals and the sensor is uniformly sensitive, making it more reliable for use in sensing devices. Such sensitivity is several orders of magnitude higher than the previously reported.

Already, researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory are experimenting with a less sensitive chip to explore whether the military could use the technology pioneered at Princeton for detecting chemicals, biological agents and explosives.

In addition to being far more sensitive than its predecessors, the Princeton chip can be manufactured inexpensively at large sizes and in large quantities. This is due to the easy-to-build nature of the sensor and a new combination of two powerful nanofabrication technologies: nanoimprint, a method that allows tiny structures to be produced in cookie-cutter fashion; and self-assembly, a technique where tiny particles form on their own. Chou's team has produced these sensors on 4-inch wafers (the basis of electronic chips) and can scale the fabrication to much larger wafer size.

"This is a very powerful method to identify molecules," Chou said. "The combination of a sensor that enhances signals far beyond what was previously possible, that's uniform in its sensitivity and that's easy to mass produce could change the landscape of sensor technology and what's possible with sensing."


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Contact: Chris Emery
cemery@princeton.edu
609-258-4597
Princeton University, Engineering School
Source:Eurekalert  

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