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Hydrogenated amorphous silicon nitride photonic crystals for improved-performance surface electromagnetic wave biosensors

: Sinibaldi, Alberto; Descrovi, Emiliano; Giorgis, Fabrizio; Dominici, Lorenzo; Ballarini, Mirko; Mandracci, Pietro; Danz, Norbert; Michelotti, Francesco

Postprint (1.1 MByte; PDF; )

Biomedical optics express. Online journal 3 (2012), Nr.10, S.2405-2410
ISSN: 2156-7085
Zeitschriftenaufsatz, Elektronische Publikation
Fraunhofer IOF ()

We exploit the properties of surface electromagnetic waves propagating at the surface of finite one dimensional photonic crystals to improve the performance of optical biosensors with respect to the standard surface plasmon resonance approach. We demonstrate that the hydrogenated amorphous silicon nitride technology is a versatile platform for fabricating one dimensional photonic crystals with any desirable design and operating in a wide wavelength range, from the visible to the near infrared. We prepared sensors based on photonic crystals sustaining either guided modes or surface electromagnetic waves, also known as Bloch surface waves. We carried out for the first time a direct experimental comparison of their sensitivity and figure of merit with surface plasmon polaritons on metal layers, by making use of a commercial surface plasmon resonance instrument that was slightly adapted for the experiments. Our measurements demonstrate that the Bloch surface waves on silicon nitride photonic crystals outperform surface plasmon polaritons by a factor 1.3 in terms of figure of merit.