There is an increasing demand for biophotonic sensors in applications that include military, homeland security, industrial process, and biomedical, as well as a wide range of other applications. Biophotonic technology expands the sensing concepts to include the detection of chemical and biological agents (toxins) as well as the monitoring of biological processes. Biophotonic sensors are based on a broad range of photonics technologies. Not all of the sensing concepts require fiber optics for their implementation. However, the scope of this chapter will cover concepts that use optical fiber or waveguide technology.
The following quote from Tuan Vo-Dinh, Director, Center for Advanced Biomedical Photonics, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, clearly states the importance of biophotonic sensors: "An important area in chemical and biological sensing is the sensitive detection and selective identification of toxic chemical compounds (carcinogens, pollutants, etc.) or living systems (bioaersols, bacteria, viruses or related components) at ultra-trace levels in complex samples. Combining the exquisite specificity of biological recognition probes and the excellent sensitivity of laser-based optical detection, biophotonic sensors are capable of detecting and differentiating bio/chemical constituents of complex systems in order to provide unambiguous identification and accurate quantitation, and open new horizons for chemical and biological sensing."
Biophotonic sensors can be defined in two basic categories. In the first, the sensing function is created by the modulation of light using the embedded biomolecular properties of a sensing element (intrinsic). In the second category, biological processes are monitored by conventional photonic (fiber optic) sensing approaches (extrinsic).
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