Date of Award

Fall 2007

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

James M E Harper


Surface plasmon coupled emission (SPCE) is a process by which isotropic fluorescent emission, from a fluorescent dye or biological agent labeled with a fluorescent dye, is channeled into highly directional emission. This process relies on the interaction between fluorescent dye molecules and thin silver films in close proximity to each other. Recent studies have shown that SPCE greatly increases the sensitivity of spectroscopic methods by increasing the amount of light that can be collected from a fluorescent molecule. The work described in this thesis encompasses the study of new materials for SPCE sample manufacture as well as the design and construction of a compact, automated apparatus for SPCE measurement. Novel material sets have been explored to improve the adhesion of silver films to glass slides and to protect them against corrosion from the fluorescent dye coating. These sets are made with reactive gas sputtering of materials. Examples of the SPCE signals from these materials will be shown. The apparatus built to measure the angular distribution of SPCE signals measures 18"x12"x12". Measurements of SPCE with angular resolutions as low as 0.5° are demonstrated with accurate, repeatable scans. With a 1.0° step size, a full angular scan through 180° can be completed in less than 5 minutes.