The convergence of silicon photonics and infrared plasmonics allows compact, chip-scale spectral sensors. We report on
the development of a compact mid-IR spectrometer based on a broad-band IR source, dielectric waveguides, a
transformer to convert between waveguide modes and surface plasmon polaritons (SPP), an interaction region where
analyte molecules are interrogated by SPPs, an array of ring resonators to disperse the light into spectral components,
and photodetectors. The mid-IR light source emits into a dielectric waveguide, leading to a region that allows coupling
of the incident photons into SPPs. The SPPs propagate along a functionalized metal surface within an interaction region.
Interactions between the propagating SPP and any analytes bound to the surface increase loss at those wavelengths that
correspond to the analyte vibrational modes. After a suitable propagation length the SPP will be coupled back into a
dielectric waveguide, where specific wavelength components will be out-coupled to detectors by an array of ring
resonators. We have selected a 3.4 micron LED as the IR source, based on both cost and performance. Initial
experiments with circular waveguides formed from GLSO glass include measurement of the loss per mm.
Electrodynamic simulations have been performed to inform the eventual Si taper design of the proposed
photonic/plasmonic transformer. The SPP propagation length necessary for a discernible change in the signal due to
absorption in the interaction region has been estimated to be on the order of 1 mm, well within the bounds of calculated
propagation lengths for SPPs on Au.