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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Tuning the exponential sensitivity of a bound-state-in-continuum optical sensor.


In this work, we investigate the evanescent field sensing mechanism provided by an all-dielectric metasurface supporting bound states in the continuum (BICs). The metasurface is based on a transparent photonic crystal with subwavelength thickness. The BIC electromagnetic field is localized along the direction normal to the photonic crystal nanoscale-thin slab (PhCS) because of a topology-induced confinement, exponentially decaying in the material to detect. On the other hand, it is totally delocalized in the PhCS plane, which favors versatile and multiplexing sensing schemes. Liquids with different refractive indices, ranging from 1.33 to 1.45, are infiltrated in a microfluidic chamber bonded to the sensing dielectric metasurface. We observe an experimental exponential sensitivity leading to differential values as large as 226 nm/RIU with excellent FOM. This behavior is explained in terms of the physical superposition of the field with the material under investigation and supported by a thorough numerical analysis. The mechanism is then translated to the case of molecular adsorption where a suitable theoretical engineering of the optical structure points out potential sensitivities as large as 4000 nm/RIU.

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