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Compact silicon diffractive sensor: design, fabrication, and prototype

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Abstract

An in-plane constant-efficiency variable-diffraction-angle grating and an in-plane high-angular-selectivity grating are combined to enable a new compact silicon diffractive sensor. This sensor is fabricated in silicon-on-insulator and uses telecommunications wavelengths. A single sensor element has a micron-scale device size and uses intensity-based (as opposed to spectral-based) detection for increased integrability. In-plane diffraction gratings provide an intrinsic splitting mechanism to enable a two-dimensional sensor array. Detection of the relative values of diffracted and transmitted intensities is independent of attenuation and is thus robust. The sensor prototype measures refractive index changes of 104. Simulations indicate that this sensor configuration may be capable of measuring refractive index changes three or four orders of magnitude smaller. The characteristics of this sensor type make it promising for lab-on-a-chip applications.

©2012 Optical Society of America

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