Ever since its first use in a real-time analysis of a biological system back in 1990s, surface plasmon resonance (SPR) has become an important optical biosensing technology in the areas of biochemistry, biology, and medical sciences because of its real-time, label-free, and noninvasive nature.
Surface Plasmon Resonance imaging (SPRi), namely surface plasmon resonance microscopy (SPRM), is a real-time, label-free, and high-throughput technique used to study biomolecular interactions based on detecting the refractive index changes resulting from molecular binding. More specifically, SPRi has been developed to examine affinity between biomoleculars, screen biomarkers and detect biopsy specimens.
Working principles of surface plasmon resonance imaging
Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR) is an optical detection process that occurs when a polarized light hits a prism covered by a thin planar metal (typically gold or silver) layer. At certain angles of incidence, a portion of the light energy couples through the gold coating and creates a surface plasmon wave at the sample and gold surface interface. The angle of incident light required to sustain the surface plasmon wave is very sensitive to changes in refractive index at the surface (due to mass change), and it is these changes that are used to monitor the association and dissociation of biomolecules.
Kinetic characterization by Surface Plasmon Resonance and other methods has already been an important step for drug researchers to select and characterize novel therapeutics as well as for basic life scientists to investigate specific biological binding events. However, the high cost of commercial devices and consumables have prevented SPR from being introduced in the undergraduate laboratory.
Against such backdrop, several scientists managed to invent an affordable homemade SPR device. In their article titled “Surface Plasmon Resonance: An Introduction to a Surface Spectroscopy Technique”, they described a laboratory experiment in which students examine the relationship between the SPR angle and the solution refractive index at the interface and perform a coupled SPR–electrochemistry experiment. Students also study the antibody–antigen binding activity. In other words, this design allows ease of integration with electrochemistry and makes the device suitable for education. Actually such an attempt is a very good example in terms of creativity.

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