Precision Ellipsometry for Analysis of Molecular Layers

Abstract/Technology Overview

Ellipsometry is analytical technique that measures polarisation of light reflected off a surface. It gains sensitivity by measuring phase shift between components of polarisation rather than intensity. Precision ellipsometry (PREL) contains a polarisation modulator, which makes it even more sensitive down to micro-radians. This translates to sensitivity of 0.01 nm of organic molecules on silicon. 

Precision ellipsometry enables quantitative real-time measurement of molecular interactions: such as binding, attachment, and detachment. It is used to measure the kinetics of chemical reactions by fixing one of the reagents on a reflecting surface and supplying the other in a medium: gas or liquid. It is used also as a molecular sensor by fixing the respective receptor on the surface. It can be used in other applications, where molecular sensitivity is required.  

Technology Features, Specifications and Advantages

  1. Polarisation modulator is compact, cheap and consumes low power; thus PREL system is portable and can be powered from a battery.
  2. PREL has sensitivity at the molecular level and can measure deposition of molecular layers from gas and from the liquid where the substrate is placed in an optical cuvette.
  3. PREL uses cost-effective silicon substrates, providing low price per test, yet with the same level of sensitivity as the "gold standard" for molecular layers: surface plasmon resonance, which works on expensive gold substrates.

Potential Applications

PREL can be applied in (but not limited to):

  • Real-time measurement of formation of molecular multi-layers, as it is able to measure sequential molecular binding in one run
  • Chemical and pharmaceutical industries, due to its sensitivity, for at-line monitoring of properties of precursors and products
  • Portable applications, such as "in the field" for environmental monitoring

Customer Benefit

  • Portable and battery powered
  • High sensitivity
  • Real-time measurement
  • Uses cost-effective substrates

Technology Owner

Jia Le Yew


Institute of Materials Research And Engineering

Technology Category
  • Sensors & Instrumentation
Technology Status
  • Available for Licensing
Technology Readiness Level
  • TRL 4