Plasmonic Vertically Coupled Complementary Antennas for Dual-Mode Infrared Molecule Sensing

Xiahui Chen, Chu Wang, Yu Yao, Chao Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Here we report an infrared plasmonic nanosensor for label-free, sensitive, specific, and quantitative identification of nanometer-sized molecules. The device design is based on vertically coupled complementary antennas (VCCAs) with densely patterned hot-spots. The elevated metallic nanobars and complementary nanoslits in the substrate strongly couple at vertical nanogaps between them, resulting in dual-mode sensing dependent on the light polarization parallel or perpendicular to the nanobars. We demonstrate experimentally that a monolayer of octadecanethiol (ODT) molecules (thickness 2.5 nm) leads to significant antenna resonance wavelength shift over 136 nm in the parallel mode, corresponding to 7.5 nm for each carbon atom in the molecular chain or 54 nm for each nanometer in analyte thickness. Additionally, all four characteristic vibrational fingerprint signals, including the weak CH3 modes, are clearly delineated experimentally in both sensing modes. Such a dual-mode sensing with a broad wavelength design range (2.5 to 4.5 μm) is potentially useful for multianalyte detection. Additionally, we create a mathematical algorithm to design gold nanoparticles on VCCA sensors in simulation with their morphologies statistically identical to those in experiments and systematically investigate the impact of the nanoparticle morphology on the nanosensor performance. The nanoparticles form dense hot-spots, promote molecular adsorption, enhance near-field intensity 103 to 104 times, and improve ODT refractometric and fingerprint sensitivities. Our VCCA sensor structure offers a great design flexibility, dual-mode operation, and high detection sensitivity, making it feasible for broad applications from biomarker detection to environment monitoring and energy harvesting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8034-8046
Number of pages13
JournalACS nano
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 22 2017


  • molecular fingerprint
  • near-field enhancement
  • plasmonic nanoantennas
  • refractometric sensing
  • self-assembled gold nanoparticles
  • surface-enhanced infrared absorption
  • vibrational spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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