The thickness resolution and in situ advantage of ellipsometry make this optical technique particularly suitable for studies of thin organic layers of biological interest. Early ellipsometric studies in this area mainly provided thickness quantification, often expressed in terms of surface mass. However, today it is possible to perform monolayer spectroscopy, e.g. of a protein layer at a solid/liquid interface, and also to resolve details in the kinetics of layer formation. Furthermore, complicated microstructures, like porous silicon layers, can be modeled and protein adsorption can be monitored in such layers providing information about pore filling and penetration depths of protein molecules of different size and type. Quantification of adsorption and microstructural parameters of thin organic layers on planar surfaces and in porous layers is of high interest, especially in areas like biomaterials and surface-based biointeraction. Furthermore, by combining ellipsometric readout and biospecificity, possibilities to develop biosensor concepts are emerging. In this report we review the use of ellipsometry in various forms for studies of organic layers with special emphasis on biologically-related issues including in situ monitoring of protein adsorption on planar surfaces and in porous layers, protein monolayer spectroscopy and ellipsometric imaging for determination of thickness distributions. Included is also a discussion about recent developments of biosensor systems and possibilities for in situ monitoring of engineering of multilayer systems based on macromolecules.
2000. Vol. 377-378, 48-56 p.