Publication: Gold-coated split laser-induced periodic surface structures as refractometric sensors
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The generation of surface plasmon resonances (SPR) in laser-induced periodic surface structures (LIPSS) allows their application in the field of optical sensing, such as the detection of refractive index variations in gases and liquids. We have fabricated gold-coated LIPSS nanostructures on stainless steel substrates by using femtosecond laser nano-ablation. This technique is a low-cost and high-throughput fabrication method applicable to fast and large-scale manufacturing. The depth profile of the fabricated LIPSS shows a central dip at the top of each ripple that split the geometry. The actual topography is modeled and included in a computational electromagnetism package to obtain the expected optical response under the experimental conditions. The measured and simulated spectral reflectances are compared, and the differences are explained by the departure of the fabricated LIPSS from the ideal topography. The experiments and simulations showed excellent agreement for the main spectral characteristics, like the Fano-like lineshapes of the spectral reflectance. This fitting provides the values used to determine the refractometric performance of the fabricated device, that shows a sensitivity of 518 nm/RIU and a figure of merit of 32 RIU−1 for an aqueous analyte. Our experimental results show that the fabricated devices are competitive in terms of cost and simplicity when compared to existing devices with similar performance.