Human pathogens, such as HIV and other viruses, have molecular fingerprints that are difficult to distinguish. To better detect them, sensors in diagnostic tools need to manipulate light on a nanoscale. To manufacture these light manipulation devices without damaging the sensors, researchers integrated 3D plasmonic nanoarrays onto peelable films that can stick to any surface.
The sticker-nanoarray's capabilities were tested on the lenses of sensors that make up conventional imaging systems. The process occurs in distilled water at room temperature without the chemical, thermal, or mechanical treatments that can damage sensitive surfaces such as a sensor lens.
To turn the nanoarrays into a sticker, they were built into a film on a silicon wafer. When submerged in distilled water, the film peels cleanly from the wafer, allowing the wafer to be reused. The film can then stick to the desired surface without damaging it. The process also works for various classes of 3D plasmonic nanoarrays in both lateral and vertical configurations, offering more functionality.
Further work will involve developing the sticker-nanoarrays for biological sensing applications such as for protein detection in clinical diagnostics. The lab has already created electronic stickers that serve as bio-patches for drug delivery. They also can enable ordinary objects to wirelessly connect to a network, creating an Internet of Things.