Lasing whispering gallery mode resonators, such as dye doped microspheres and microcapillaries, have shown tremendous potential for refractive index sensing and biosensing applications owning to the narrower resonances achieved upon lasing. This has enabled higher resolution on the determination of the resonance wavelength shift induced by a variation of the surrounding refractive index and as a consequence to reach lower detection limit compared with their fluorescent counterparts. The sensing procedure in both cases relies on tracking the wavelength shift of individual modes, therefore requiring high resolution spectral analysis. This stringent requirement not only prevents any viable commercial prospects due to high equipment cost but more importantly imposes a technological limit, related to the equipment spectral resolution, on the achievable detection limit.
In this paper, we show for the first time that the lasing threshold and eventually the resonances intensity can be used for inferring changes of refractive index around a 15 μm dye doped polystyrene instead of the mode tracking procedure. The sensing mechanism relies on the spoiling of the resonator Q factor upon change of refractive index which eventually increases the lasing threshold. In addition to allow free space excitation and collection, alleviating the need for phase matched prism or fiber taper, this novel approach promises to reach lower detection limit by suppressing the need of high resolution spectral analysis of the whispering gallery mode spectra but instead relying on cost effective and highly sensitive intensity measurements.
Long photon confinement and high optical fields require good optical resonators. Some of the best optical resonators with a small footprint are whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators. Their principle is based on continuous total internal reflection at the interface of a round dielectric. Currently most WGM resonators are fabricated fully symmetric to their rotational axis. In WGM resonators fabricated from uniaxial crystals this symmetry axis then coincides with the optic axis, such that the modes are either parallel or perpendicular polarized. If the optic axis is however tilted with respect to the symmetry axis the polarization of the modes changes dramatically. We report on high Q resonances in a slightly birefringent MgF2 WGM resonator, cut at an angle of 20° with respect to the optic axis. A novel type of mode is observed that can be fully coupled (decoupled) with a right (left) hand circular polarized beam of light. Furthermore, the polarization properties at different outcoupling positions, determined via full Stokes measurements, are recorded and show a continuous complex change in ellipticity. We present the experimental results. Understanding the polarization behavior in an off-axis, birefringent WGM resonator may offer a new way for phase-matching in non-linear χ(2) materials.