Bio-detection based on CMOS technology boosts the miniaturization of detection systems and the success on highly efficient, robust, accurate, and low coast Lab-on-Chip detection schemes. Such on chip detection technologies have covered healthy related harmful gases, bio-chemical analytes, genetic micro RNA, etc. Their monitoring accuracy is mainly qualified in terms of sensitivity and limit of the detection (LOD) of the detection system. In this context, recently developed silicon on insulator (SOI) optical devices have displayed highly performant detection abilities that LOD could go beyond 10-8RIU and sensitivity could exceeds 103nm/RIU. The SOI integrated optical sensing devices include strip/slotted waveguide consisting in structures like Mach-Zehnder interferometers (MZI), ring resonators (RR), nano cavities, etc. Typically, hollow core RR and nano-cavities could exhibit higher sensitivity due to their optical mode confinement properties with a partial localization of the electric field in low index sensing regions than devices based on evanescent field tails outside of the optical cores. Furthermore, they also provide larger sensing areas for surface functionalization to reach higher sensitivities and lower LODs.
The state of art of hollow core devices, either based on Bragg gratings formed from a slot waveguide cavity or photonic crystal slot cavities, show sensitivities (S) up to 400nm/RIU and Figure of Merit (FOM) around 3,000 in water environment, FOM being defined as the inverse of LOD and precisely as FOM=SQ/λ, with λ the resonance wavelength and Q the quality factor of the considered resonator. Such high achieved FOMs in nano cavities are mainly due to their large Q factors around 15,000. While for mostly used RR, which do not require particular design strategies, relatively low Q factors around 1800 in water are met and moderate sensitivities about 300nm/RIU are found.
In this work, we present here a novel slot ring resonator design to make breakthrough of the performance of slot ring resonator sensing ability. Different from the normal sensing regime by monitoring one specific resonance (λres) peak shift, the proposed approach stems from the sensitivity of the RR critical coupling. The critical coupling peak is auto-selected out by matching the following condition: the ring resonator’s round trip attenuation coefficient a(λ) being equal to the coupler self-coupling coefficient k(λ), thus resulting in the deepest extinction ratio (ER) among the spectrum RR comb. The obtained sensing comb, based on a V-shape spectrum envelop, is engineered by controlling a(λ) and k(λ) with opposite monotonicities. Both a(λ)and k(λ) are tuned to have a large dispersion along the wavelength, which means that |a(λ)-k(λ)| keeps rapidly increasing as λres is far away from λc, eliminating the resonance ER quickly down to 0.
Experimentally, slot waveguide ring resonators with a radius of 50µm have been fabricated on a standard silicon platform with a Si thickness of 220nm, loaded by racetrack couplers with a straight coupling length of 20µm. Sensing experiments have been carried out by changing the top cladding material from a series of Cargille optical liquids with refraction index values ranging from 1.3 to 1.5. The Q factors of critical coupling resonances was monitored from 2,000 to 6,000, and measured wavelength shifts of this peak are from 1.41µm to 1.56µm. The maximum sensitivity of 1300nm/RIU is observed in the cladding index range 1.30-1.35.
To conclude, a new sensing regime by tracking the critical coupling resonance λc of slot waveguide ring resonators is demonstrated. The reported sensitivity is up 1300nm/RIU around the water RI of 1.33, and the monitored sensing FOM is about 2300, which is very close to the FOM values achieved from nanobeam cavities. This work can thus contribute to future integrated optical sensing schemes based on slot RRs.
Weiwei Zhang, Samuel Serna, Xavier Le Roux, Laurent Vivien, and Eric Cassan, "Engineered SOI slot waveguide ring resonator V-shape resonance combs for refraction index sensing up to 1300nm/RIU (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 9891, Silicon Photonics and Photonic Integrated Circuits V, 98911O (Presented at SPIE Photonics Europe: April 07, 2016; Published: 27 July 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2227145.5042345293001.
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