Water is a persistent background in virtually all biosensors, yet is difficult to quantify. We apply an interferometric optical balance to measure water film accumulation from air onto several types of prepared silica surfaces. The optical balance uses in-line common-path interferometry with balanced quadratures to measure the real-time accumulation of molecular films. The accumulated water thickness is sensitive to ambient conditions, with thicknesses that vary from picometers up to nanometers, even on hydrophobic silanized surfaces. These results demonstrate that water adsorption contributes an excess signal in dry label-free protein microarray optical biosensors and presents a fundamental limit to assay sensitivity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)