Optical Biosensors Based on Photonic Crystal Surface Waves

  • Valery N. Konopsky
  • Elena V. Alieva
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology™ book series (MIMB, volume 503)


Optical biosensors have played a key role in the selective recognition of target biomolecules and in biomolecular interaction analysis, providing kinetic data about biological binding events in real time without labeling. The advantages of the label-free concept are the elimination of detrimental effects from labels that may interfere with fundamental interaction and the absence of a time-consuming pretreatment. The disadvantages of all label-free techniques–including the most mature one, surface plasmon resonance (SPR) technique, are a deficient sensitivity to a specific signal and undesirable susceptibilities to non-specific signals, e.g., to the volume effect of refraction index variations. These variations arise from temperature fluctuations and drifts and they are the limiting factor for many state-of-the-art optical biosensors. Here we describe a new optical biosensor technique based on the registration of dual optical s-polarized waves on a photonic crystal surface. The simultaneous registration of two different optical modes from the same surface spot permits the segregation of the volume and the surface signals, while the absence of metal damping permits an increase in the propagation length of the optical surface waves and the sensitivity of the biosensor. The technique was tested with the binding of biotin molecules to a streptavidin monolayer that has been detected with a signal/noise ratio of about 15 at 1 s signal accumulation time. The detection limit is about 20 fg of the analyte on the probed spot of the surface.

Key words

Label-free optical biosensors Photonic crystal surface waves Biotin–streptavidin binding Streptavidin postbinding conformational change 



The authors thank S. Grachev for the kind donation of some biochemicals and for helpful advice about surface preparation. This work was partly supported by the European Network of Excellence, NMP3-CT- 2005-515703-2.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Valery N. Konopsky
    • 1
  • Elena V. Alieva
    • 1
  1. 1.Russian Academy of SciencesInstitute of SpectroscopyTroitskRussia

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