Refractometric Sensing with Silicon Quantum Dots Coupled to a Microsphere
- First Online:
- Cite this article as:
- Zhi, Y., Manchee, C.P.K., Silverstone, J.W. et al. Plasmonics (2013) 8: 71. doi:10.1007/s11468-012-9423-8
- 295 Downloads
Quantum dots (QDs) coupled to an optical microsphere can be used as fluorescent refractometric sensors. The QD emission couples to the whispering gallery resonances of the microsphere, leading to sharp, periodic maxima in the fluorescence spectrum. Silicon QDs (Si-QDs) are especially attractive fluorophores because of their low toxicity and ease of handling. In this work, a thin layer of Si-QDs was coated onto the surface of a microsphere made by melting the end of a tapered optical fiber. Refractometric sensing experiments were conducted using two methods. First, the sphere was immersed directly into a cuvette containing methanol–water mixtures. Second, the sphere was inserted into a silica capillary and the solutions were pumped through the capillary channel. The latter method enables microfluidic operation, which is otherwise difficult to achieve with a microsphere. In both geometries, high-visibility (V = 0.83) modes were observed with Q factors up to 1,700. Using standard signal processing methods applied to the whispering gallery mode (WGM) spectrum, sensorgram-type measurements were conducted using single Si-QD-coated microspheres. The WGM resonances shifted as a function of the refractive index of the analyte solution, giving sensitivities ranging from ~30 to 100 nm/refractive index unit (RIU) for different microspheres and a detection limit on the order of 10−4 RIU.