The ability to precisely control the topography, roughness, and chemical properties of metallic nanostructures is crucial for applications in plasmonics, nanofluidics, electronics, and biosensing. Here a simple method to produce embedded nanoplasmonic devices that can generate tunable plasmonic fields on ultraflat surfaces is demonstrated. Using a template-stripping technique, isolated metallic nanodisks and wires are embedded in optical epoxy, which is capped with a thin silica overlayer using atomic layer deposition. The top silica surface is topographically flat and laterally homogeneous, providing a uniform, high-quality biocompatible substrate, while the nanoplasmonic architecture hidden underneath creates a tunable plasmonic landscape for optical imaging and sensing. The localized surface plasmon resonance of gold nanodisks embedded underneath flat silica films is used for real-time kinetic sensing of the formation of a supported lipid bilayer and subsequent receptor-ligand binding. Gold nanodisks can also be embedded in elastomeric materials, which can be peeled off the substrate to create flexible plasmonic membranes that conform to non-planar surfaces.
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