Advances in Nanophotonic Sensing Technologies During Three International Label-Free Lab-On-Chip Projects


We review the results from the use of various integrated nanophotonic sensors for label-free biosensing developed in three recent European biosensor collaborations: SABIO, INTOPSENS, and POSITIVE. Nanophotonic transducers are attractive for label-free biosensing due to their small footprint, high Q-factors, and compatibility with on-chip optics and microfluidics. This enables integrated sensor arrays for compact labs-on-chip. One application of label-free sensor arrays is for point-of-care medical diagnostics. Bringing such powerful tools to the single medical practitioner is an important step towards personalized medicine, but requires addressing a number of issues: improving limit of detection, managing the influence of temperature, parallelization of the measurement for higher throughput and on-chip referencing, efficient light-coupling strategies to simplify alignment, and packaging of the nanophotonics chip and integration with microfluidics. From SABIO, we report a volume sensing sensitivity of 240 nm/RIU and detection limit of 5 × 10−6 RIU, and a surface sensing limit of detection (LOD) of 0.9 pg/mm2 for at 1.3 μm for an eight-channel slot-waveguide ring resonator sensor array, within a microfluidics integrated compact cartridge. In INTOPSENS, ongoing efforts have so far resulted in various nanophotonic transducer designs with volume sensing sensitivities as great as 2,169 nm/RIU and LODs down to 8.3 × 10−6 RIU at 1.5 μm. Early experiments from the POSITIVE project have demonstrated volumetric sensitivities as high as 1,247 nm/RIU at 1.5 μm.

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As project manager of all three projects, there are many contributors with whom I have worked directly and am most grateful for their efforts. I thank Jesús Álvarez Álvarez, Hans Sohlström, and Kristinn Gylfason for their photonics contributions in both SABIO and POSITIVE. Other direct contributors to the SABIO work summarized here are Andrzej Kaźmierczak, Fabien Dortou, Laurent Vivien, Jon Popplewell, Gerry Ronan, and Carlos A. Barrios. Other direct contributors to the INTOPSENS work summarized here include Tom Claes, Peter Bienstman, Asger Krüger, Martin Kristensen, Jaime Garcia Rupérez, Veronica Toccafondo, and Javier Garcia. Further direct contributors from the POSITIVE project for the article include Vladimir Chirvony, Isaac Suárez, Paolo Bettotti, and Juan Martínez Pastor. As I review the collaborative projects SABIO, INTOPSENS, and POSITIVE, many others have contributed. The work reported here was financed by the European Commission through the sixth framework project FP6-IST-SABIO, and the seventh framework projects FP7-ICT-INTOPSENS and FP7-ICT-POSITIVE, respectively.

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Hill, D. Advances in Nanophotonic Sensing Technologies During Three International Label-Free Lab-On-Chip Projects. BioNanoSci. 1, 162–172 (2011).

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  • Nanophotonics
  • Slot-waveguides
  • Ring resonators
  • Porous silicon
  • Label-free
  • Biosensing
  • Lab-on-chip