Mid-Infrared (Mid-IR) techniques have gained considerable attention because of their inherent molecular selectivity and their potential for rapid label-free detection in applications such as water quality and environmental monitoring, security, food safety, and point-of-care diagnostics. Waveguide evanescent-field-based Mid-IR spectroscopy can detect analytes at very low concentrations using molecular absorption fingerprints, potentially offering high sensitivity and selectivity over a wide range of compounds. Moreover, significant footprint reduction compared to ATR-based FTIR measurements can be achieved with optical waveguide-based Mid-IR sensing through integration of various optoelectronic and microfluidic components realizing fully packaged lab-on-a-chip systems.
Recently we have developed low-loss chalcogenide optical waveguides and demonstrated waveguiding in the mid-wave and long-wave infrared spectral bands. High contrast GeTe4 and ZnSe channel waveguides were fabricated on bulk substrates and on silicon wafers (with suitable optical isolation layers) using lift-off and dry etching techniques after photolithographically patterning the thin films. These waveguides were exhibiting optical losses as low as 0.6 dB/cm in the mid-wave IR band and were validated for the Mid-IR evanescent wave spectroscopy with water and IPA. We have also demonstrated the effectiveness of simple paper-based fluidics with our waveguides.
In addition, we investigate a new family of free-standing Ta2O5 rib waveguides for trace gas detection with evanescent field overlap with the surrounding medium (air) up to about 70%. The waveguides are being fabricated and the fabrication and characterization results will be presented.