Investigations on optical and dielectric properties of hybrid ultrathin layer-by-layer (LbL) films of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) and polyelectrolytes under different pH conditions resulted in surface plasmon resonance (SPR) signal enhancement under attenuated total reflection (ATR) spectroscopy conditions. Theoretical considerations on the basis of the Maxwell-Garnett theory were made to compare with experimental results. LbL films with different layer architectures were fabricated from AuNPs and two polyelectrolytes: poly-(allylamine hydrochloride) (PAH) and poly (styrene sulfonate) (PSS) on Au and Ag thin film substrates for ATR. UV-vis spectroscopy and SPR spectroscopy were applied to study LbL film growth and monitor SPR shift upon pH switching. The (PAH/AuNPs)x multilayers showed an interesting dual-responsive SPR change as a function of pH and distance between AuNP layers and metal film. The addition of (PAH/PSS)y layers was found to act as an effective cushion to enhance this SPR response due to the significant swelling/shrinking of the film. In the case of [(PAH/PSS)y + (PAH/AuNPs)x], both theoretical calculations and experimental results showed that the SPR response can either (a) move toward lower incident angle with a sharp peak shape upon swelling in pH = 2 or (b) shift to a higher angle with a broadened peak shape after contraction in pH = 10. This effect was found to be opposite to what is expected from LbL films made up of the polyelectrolytes alone. Moreover, increasing the distance between AuNPs and the metal films also decouples this enhancement effect. A two-wavelength experiment (red and green lasers) was used to quantitatively demonstrate this SPR response to pH switching. Finally, SPR imaging was employed to monitor the SPR change with pH switching between 2 and 10 on the [(PAH/PSS)4 + (PAH/AuNPs)2] film. Thus, on the basis of the SPR spectroscopic and SPR imaging pH response, a reproducible and stable sensing system can be successfully fabricated with these films.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry