The surface functionalization of a noble metal is crucial in a surface plasmon resonance-based biomolecular detection system because the interfacial coating must retain the activity of immobilized biomolecules while enhancing the optimal loading. We present here a one-step, room-temperature, high-speed, gas-phase plasma polymerization process for functionalizing gold substrates using siloxane as an adhesion layer and acrylic acid as a functional layer. Siloxane- and thiol-based coatings were compared for their performance as adhesion and the interfacial layer for subsequent functionalization. An in situ sequential deposition of siloxane and acrylic acid resulted in a 7-fold increase in carboxylic functionality surfacial content compared to films deposited with thiol-containing precursors. Grading of the layer composition achieved as a consequence of ion-induced mixing on the surface coating under the application of the plasma is confirmed through secondary ion mass spectroscopic studies. DNA hybridization assays were demonstrated on gold/glass substrates using surface plasmon enhanced ellipsometry and the applicability of this coating for protein immunoassays were demonstrated with plasma functionalized gold/plastic substrates in Biacore 3000 SPR instrument.
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