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Slow light Mach–Zehnder interferometer as label-free biosensor with scalable sensitivity

Abstract

The design, fabrication, and characterization of a label-free Mach–Zehnder interferometer (MZI) optical biosensor that incorporates a highly dispersive one-dimensional (1D) photonic crystal in one arm are presented. The sensitivity of this slow light MZI-based sensor scales with the length of the slow light photonic crystal region. The numerically simulated sensitivity of a MZI sensor with a 16 μm long slow light region is 115,000 rad/RIU-cm, which is sevenfold higher than traditional MZI biosensors with millimeter-length sensing regions. An experimental bulk refractive index detection sensitivity of 84,000 rad/RIU-cm is realized and nucleic acid detection is also demonstrated.

© 2016 Optical Society of America

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