Engineered Metallic Nanostructures: Fabrication, Characterization, and Applications
Colvin, Vicki L.
Doctor of Philosophy
Metallic nanostructures have garnered a great deal of attention due to their fascinating optical properties, which differ from the bulk metal. They have been proven to exceed expectations in wide variety of applications including chemical and biological sensing. Nevertheless, high-throughput and low cost nanofabrication techniques are required to implant metallic nanostructures in widespread applications. With that vision, this thesis presents a versatile and reliable method for scalable fabrication of gold nanostructures. In this approach, a plasma-treated ordered array of polystyrene nanospheres acts as an initial mask. The key step in this process is the vapor-deposition of nickel as a sacrificial mask. Thereby, gold nanostructures are directly formed on the substrate through the nickel mask. This is an easy, powerful, and straightforward method that offers several degrees of freedom to precisely control the shape and size of nanostructures. We made a library of nanostructures including gold nanocrescents, double crescents, nanorings, and nanodisks with the ability to tune the size in the range of 150 to 650 nm. The fabricated nanostructures are highly packed and uniformly cover the centimeter scale substrate. The optical properties of metallic nanostructures were extensively studied by a combination of UV-Vis-NIR and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopies, and correlation between optical response and geometrical parameters were investigated. In the next part of this thesis, highly sensitive surface enhanced infrared absorption (SEIRA) analysis was demonstrated on gold nanocrescent arrays. Theoretical modeling was confirmed that these substrates provide highly dense and strong hot-spots over the substrate, which is required for surface enhanced spectroscopic studies. Gold nanocrescent arrays exhibit highly tunable plasmon resonance to cover desired molecular vibrational bands. These substrates experimentally illustrated 3 orders of magnitude enhancement of IR signal over the entire substrate and up to 5 orders of magnitude enhancement on hot-spot area. Finally, we showed that fabricated substrates are completely biocompatible for growth, adhesion, and proliferation of human dermal fibroblast cells. Leveraging the capability of gold nanocrescent arrays to enhance IR signals, we developed a real time SEIRA spectroscopic technique for label-free biological cell analysis. The performance of proposed method was assessed by in situ tracking the SEIRA signal of human dermal fibroblast cells cultured on gold nanocrescent arrays.
gold nanostructures, high-throughput nanofabrication, plasmonic, SEIRA, label-free cell analysis