Terahertz Characterization of DNA: Enabling a Novel Approach

Report No. ARL-CR-0788
Authors: Sarah Stranieri
Date/Pages: November 2015; 20 pages
Abstract: The terahertz spectrum of radiation has been determined to be a promising candidate for the characterization of biological molecules, such as DNA. Several alternative methods, including fluorescent chromophore labeling and techniques that use terahertz radiation, have been proposed and are currently in use. Though established, they have disadvantages, such as alteration to the nucleic acid sequence, requirement of a thick DNA testing layer, and conductor structure complexity. This project enables a novel method to identify DNA in a more reliable and less procedurally complicated manner. The method involves the use of terahertz surface plasmon generated on the surface of a gold-coated stainless steel perforated foil. This approach is less expensive and requires smaller quantities of genetic testing material. Such advantages are due to overlapping resonance when the plasmon frequency generated by a foil coincides with that of the biological material. The interference of the impinging terahertz wave and surface plasmon produces spectral graphs, which can be analyzed to identify and characterize a DNA sample. This work sets the foundations of a systematic approach to successfully make the plasmon-based terahertz approach a promising candidate. The location and orientation of the samples were kept constant to obtain conclusive and comparative results. This work offers clear evidence that the DNA molecules under investigation interact with the terahertz wave.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: November 1, 2015