Highly sensitive, multiplexed integrated photonic structures for lab-on-a-chip sensing
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The objective of this work is to develop essential building blocks for the lab-on-a-chip optical sensing systems with high performance. In this study, the silicon-on-insulator (SOI) platform is chosen because of its compatibility with the mature microelectronics industry for the great potential in terms of powerful data processing and massive production. Despite the impressing progress in optical sensors based on the silicon photonic technologies, two constant challenges are larger sensitivity and better selectivity. To address the first issue, we incorporate porous materials to the silicon photonics platform. Two porous materials are investigated: porous silicon and porous titania. The demonstrated travelling-wave resonators with the magnesiothermically reacted porous silicon cladding have shown significant enhancement in the sensitivity. The process is then further optimized by replacing the thermal oxide with a flowable oxide for the magnesiothermic reduction. A different approach of making porous silicon using porous anodized alumina membrane leads to better flexibility in controlling the pore size and porosity. Porous titania is successfully integrated with silicon nitride resonators. To improve the selectivity, an array of integrated optical sensors are coated with different polymers, such that each incoming gas analyte has its own signature in the collective response matrix. A multiplexed gas sensor with four polymers has been demonstrated. It also includes on chip references compensating for the adverse environmental effects. On chip spectral analysis is also very critical for lab-on-a-chip sensing systems. For that matter, based on an array of microdonut resonators, we demonstrate an 81 channel microspectrometer. The demonstrated spectrometer leads to a high spectral resolution of 0.6 nm, and a large operating bandwidth of ~ 50 nm.