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posted on 11.12.2019 by Thakshila Liyanage

Noble metal nanostructures display collective oscillation of the surface conduction electrons upon light irradiation as a form of localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) properties. Size, shape and the refractive index of surrounding environment are the key features that controls the LSPR properties. Surface passivating ligands have the ability to modify the charge density of nanostructures to allow resonant wavelength to match that of the incident light, a phenomenon called “plasmoelectric effect,”. According to the drude model Red and blue shifts of LSPR peak of nanostructures are observed in the event of reducing and increasing charge density, respectively. However, herein we report unusual LSPR properties of gold triangular nanoprisms (Au TNPs) upon functionalization with para-substituted thiophenols (X-Ph-SH, X = -NH2, -OCH3, -CH3, -H, -Cl, -CF3, and -NO2). Accordingly, we hypothesized that an appropriate energy level alignment between the Au Fermi energy and the HOMO or LUMO of ligands allows delocalization of surface plasmon excitation at the hybrid inorganic-organic interface, and thus provides a thermodynamically driven plasmoelectric effect. We further validated our hypothesis by calculating the HOMO and LUMO levels and also work function changes of Au TNPs upon functionalization with para substituted thiol. We further utilized our unique finding to design ultrasensitive plasmonic substrate for biosensing of cancer microRNA in bladder cancer and owe to unpresidential sensitivity of the developed Au TNPs based LSPR sensor, for the first time we have been utilized to analysis the tumor suppressor microRNA for more accurate diagnosis of BC. Additionally, we have been advancing our sensing platform to mitigate the false positive and negative responses of the sensing platform using surface enhanced fluorescence technique. This noninvasive, highly sensitive, highly specific, also does not have false positives technique provide strong key to detect cancer at very early stage, hence increase the cancer survival rate. Moreover, the electromagnetic field enhancement of Surface-Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) and other related surface-enhanced spectroscopic processes resulted from the LSPR property. This dissertation describes the design and development of entirely new SERS nanosensors using flexible SERS substrate based on unique LSPR property of Au TNPs and developed sensors shows excellent SERS activity (enhancement factor = ~6.0 x 106) and limit of detection (as low as 56 parts-per-quadrillions) with high selectivity by chemometric analyses among three commonly used explosives (TNT, RDX, and PETN). Further we achieved the programable self-assembly of Au TNPs using molecular tailoring to form a 3D supper lattice array based on the substrate effect. Here we achieved the highest reported sensitivity for potent drug analysis, including opioids and synthetic cannabinoids from human plasma obtained from the emergency room. This exquisite sensitivity is mainly due to the two reasons, including molecular resonance of the adsorbate molecules and the plasmonic coupling among the nanoparticles. Altogether we are highly optimistic that our research will not only increase the patient survival rate through early detection of cancer but also help to battle the “war against drugs” that together is expected to enhance the quality of human life.


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy



Campus location


Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Rajesh Sardar

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Christoph Naumann

Additional Committee Member 3

Dr. John Goodpaster

Additional Committee Member 4

Dr. Mangilal Agarwal