Chemical and biological sensing are problems of tremendous contemporary technological importance in multiple regulatory and human health contexts, including environmental monitoring, water quality assurance, workplace air quality assessment, food quality control, many aspects of biodiagnostics, and, of course, homeland security. Frequently, what is needed, or at least wanted, are sensors that are simultaneously cheap, fast, reliable, selective, sensitive, robust, and easy to use. Unfortunately, these are often conflicting requirements. Over the past few years, however, a number of promising ideas based on optical interference effects have emerged. Each is based to some extent on advances in the design and fabrication of functional materials. Generally, the advances are of two kinds: chemo- and bio-selective recognition and binding, and efficient methods for micropatterning or microstructuring.

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(05)00794-7