Design, fabrication and characterization of resonant waveguide grating based optical biosensors

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Hossain, Md Nazmul
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University College Cork
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The absence of rapid, low cost and highly sensitive biodetection platform has hindered the implementation of next generation cheap and early stage clinical or home based point-of-care diagnostics. Label-free optical biosensing with high sensitivity, throughput, compactness, and low cost, plays an important role to resolve these diagnostic challenges and pushes the detection limit down to single molecule. Optical nanostructures, specifically the resonant waveguide grating (RWG) and nano-ribbon cavity based biodetection are promising in this context. The main element of this dissertation is design, fabrication and characterization of RWG sensors for different spectral regions (e.g. visible, near infrared) for use in label-free optical biosensing and also to explore different RWG parameters to maximize sensitivity and increase detection accuracy. Design and fabrication of the waveguide embedded resonant nano-cavity are also studied. Multi-parametric analyses were done using customized optical simulator to understand the operational principle of these sensors and more important the relationship between the physical design parameters and sensor sensitivities. Silicon nitride (SixNy) is a useful waveguide material because of its wide transparency across the whole infrared, visible and part of UV spectrum, and comparatively higher refractive index than glass substrate. SixNy based RWGs on glass substrate are designed and fabricated applying both electron beam lithography and low cost nano-imprint lithography techniques. A Chromium hard mask aided nano-fabrication technique is developed for making very high aspect ratio optical nano-structure on glass substrate. An aspect ratio of 10 for very narrow (~60 nm wide) grating lines is achieved which is the highest presented so far. The fabricated RWG sensors are characterized for both bulk (183.3 nm/RIU) and surface sensitivity (0.21nm/nm-layer), and then used for successful detection of Immunoglobulin-G (IgG) antibodies and antigen (~1μg/ml) both in buffer and serum. Widely used optical biosensors like surface plasmon resonance and optical microcavities are limited in the separation of bulk response from the surface binding events which is crucial for ultralow biosensing application with thermal or other perturbations. A RWG based dual resonance approach is proposed and verified by controlled experiments for separating the response of bulk and surface sensitivity. The dual resonance approach gives sensitivity ratio of 9.4 whereas the competitive polarization based approach can offer only 2.5. The improved performance of the dual resonance approach would help reducing probability of false reading in precise bio-assay experiments where thermal variations are probable like portable diagnostics.
Nano-fabrication , Grating , Guided mode resonance (GMR) , Resonant waveguide grating (RWG) , Bio-assay , Optical biosensor , Photonic crystal
Hossain, M.N, 2015. Design, fabrication and characterization of resonant waveguide grating based optical biosensors. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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