Nanostructured optical fibre arrays for high-density biochemical sensing and remote imaging
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Optical fibre bundles usually comprise a few thousand to tens of thousands of individually clad glass optical fibres. The ordered arrangement of the fibres enables coherent transmission of an image through the bundle and therefore enables analysis and viewing in remote locations. In fused bundles, this architecture has also been used to fabricate arrays of various micro to nano-scale surface structures (micro/nanowells, nanotips, triangles, etc.) over relatively large areas. These surface structures have been used to obtain new optical and analytical capabilities. Indeed, the imaging bundle can be thought of as a “starting material” that can be sculpted by a combination of fibre drawing and selective wet-chemical etching processes. A large variety of bioanalytical applications have thus been developed, ranging from nano-optics to DNA nanoarrays. For instance, nanostructured optical surfaces with intrinsic light-guiding properties have been exploited as surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) platforms and as near-field probe arrays. They have also been productively associated with electrochemistry to fabricate arrays of transparent nanoelectrodes with electrochemiluminescent imaging properties. The confined geometry of the wells has been loaded with biosensing materials and used as femtolitre-sized vessels to detect single molecules. This review describes the fabrication of high-density nanostructured optical fibre arrays and summarizes the large range of optical and bioanalytical applications that have been developed, reflecting the versatility of this ordered light-guiding platform.