Molecular recognition and discrimination of carbohydrates are important because carbohydrates perform essential roles in most living organisms for energy metabolism and cell-to-cell communication. Nevertheless, it is difficult to identify or distinguish various carbohydrate molecules owing to the lack of a significant distinction in the physical or chemical characteristics. Although there has been considerable effort to develop a sensing platform for individual carbohydrates selectively using chemical receptors or an ensemble array, their detection and discrimination limits have been as high in the millimolar concentration range. Here we show a highly sensitive and selective detection method for the discrimination of carbohydrate molecules using nano-slot-antenna array-based sensing chips which operate in the terahertz (THz) frequency range (0.5-2.5 THz). This THz metamaterial sensing tool recognizes various types of carbohydrate molecules over a wide range of molecular concentrations. Strongly localized and enhanced terahertz transmission by nano-antennas can effectively increase the molecular absorption cross sections, thereby enabling the detection of these molecules even at low concentrations. We verified the performance of nano-antenna sensing chip by both THz spectra and images of transmittance. Screening and identification of various carbohydrates can be applied to test even real market beverages with a high sensitivity and selectivity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas