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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Fall 2018

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Leger, Janelle

Second Advisor

Emory, Steven R.

Third Advisor

Spiegel, P. Clint


Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR) is the phenomenon in which an incident electromagnetic wave couples to charge density oscillations on a metal surface.The resulting excitation, known as a surface plasmon polariton (SPP), will propagate along the metal-dielectric interface. SPR biosensors monitor protein binding interactions in real time, which lead to changes in the refractive index, thereby altering the SPP excitation conditions. Recently, we have designed a structure that supports guided-wave plasmon polariton modes (GW-PPMs), a novel type of plasmonic excitation that demonstrates increased propagation lengths compared to those of traditional SPPs in certain regions of phase space. Because it has been shown that higher propagation lengths lead to increased sensitivity for SPR biosensors, employing GW-PPM-supporting structures could potentially lead to improved performance. Plasmonic modes are excited and detected using attenuated total reflectance (ATR), in which a prism is used to couple light into the waveguide structure. Biosensing applications require the use of the Kretschmann ATR configuration, in which the waveguide and prism are in direct contact, allowing for protein binding interactions to be monitored at the exposed surface of the waveguide. While the Kretschmann configuration is frequently employed experimentally, comprehensive theoretical models for leaky modes have yet to be realized. As we specifically address the complications associated with modeling the plasmonic excitations within the region of phase space accessible by Kretschmann ATR, we hope to better understand the nature of these modes and how they differ fundamentally from traditional SPPs. In addition, we hope to characterize the relationship of both propagation lengths and biosensor sensitivity with values. Further, we will discuss the relationship between biosensor sensitivity and propagation length. The work presented in this thesis sets the stage for better understanding the nature of plasmonic modes excited using the Kretschmann configuration and for developing SPR waveguides with tunable propagation lengths as a way to increase biosensor sensitivity.




SPR Biosensor, Attenuated Total Reflectance, Kretschmann Configuration, Surface Plasmon Polariton


Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Surface plasmon resonance; Electromagnetic waves; Dielectrics




masters theses




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