Intellectual Property

Plasmonic nanorod metamaterials for chemical and bio sensing

Plasmonic nanorod metamaterials for chemical and bio sensing

Researchers at QUB have discovered an improvement in biosensing technology using a plasmonic metamaterial that is capable of supporting a guided mode in a porous nanorod layer.


Label-free plasmonic biosensors rely either on surface plasmon polaritons or on localized surface plasmons on continuous or nanostructured noble-metal surfaces to detect molecularbinding events. Despite undisputed advantages, including spectral tunability, strong enhancement of the local electric field and much better adaptability to modern nanobiotechnology architectures, localized plasmons demonstrate orders of magnitude lower sensitivity compared with their guided counterparts.  QUB have discovered a novel approach using a standard streptavidin–biotin affinity model that results in a considerable improvement in the detection limit of small analytes compared with conventional label-free plasmonic devices


Value Proposition
The concept of a designer-made transducer with an enhanced sensing functionality, a porous bioimmobilization template with controlled size of pore openings, and wavelength-tunable properties offers numerous opportunities in the development of new biological and chemical sensors and sensing strategies. The possibility to design the working wavelength and sensitivity by changing the nanostructure parameters makes the proposed transducer a universal tool for applications in the sensing of biological and chemical molecules of different properties, for example, size and/or absorption, and yet compatible with the existing SPR equipment. The nanoporous texture of the metamaterial further promises an improved sensitivity owing to the possibility of increasing the amount of tested biomaterial, size selectivity and further field-enhancement-based applications for molecular identification, such as surface-enhanced fluorescence and/or surface-enhanced Raman scattering, inside the nanorod matrix. Finally, as the metamaterial fabrication procedure is simple and compatible with microchips and microfluidic technologies, the metamaterial-based biosensor can be integrated into complex systems such as micro total-analysis units. 

Nanomaterials of all types are poised to register robust growth driven by growing interest from healthcare and electronics sectors.  United States emerged as the largest regional market with an estimated US$1.12 billion revenues in 2008, as stated by Global Industry Analysts, Inc. Western Europe is the second largest regional market accounting for over 30% of global revenues. Asia-Pacific is projected to be the fastest growing market, with revenues poised to increase at a compounded annual rate of 38.7% over the analysis period 2002-2015. Worldwide NanoMaterial oxide revenues are forecast to reach US$6 billion in 2013. Revenues for nano-metals are projected to approach US$3 billion by 2015. Carbon Nanotubes is another billion-dollar segment expected to post double-digit growth through 2015. Electronics is the largest end-use market for NanoMaterials while healthcare is the most promising.


Robert Pollard, William Hendren, Paul Evans, Anatoly Zayats and Gregory Wurtz within the Centre for Nanostructured Media (CNM) in the School of Maths & Physics.

Patent Status

A priority patent application was filed on 12 Jun 2006 and the application entered PCT on 12 Jun 2007 with International Publication Number WO 2007/144596


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