Chip-scale Mid-Infrared chemical sensors using air-clad pedestal silicon waveguides. Academic Article uri icon


  • Towards a future lab-on-a-chip spectrometer, we demonstrate a compact chip-scale air-clad silicon pedestal waveguide as a Mid-Infrared (Mid-IR) sensor capable of in situ monitoring of organic solvents. The sensor is a planar crystalline silicon waveguide, which is highly transparent, between = 1.3 and 6.5 m, so that its operational spectral range covers most characteristic chemical absorption bands due to bonds such as C-H, N-H, O-H, C-C, N-O, C=O, and CN, as opposed to conventional UV, Vis, Near-IR sensors, which use weaker overtones of these fundamental bands. To extend light transmission beyond = 3.7 m, a spectral region where a typical silicon dioxide under-clad is absorbing, we fabricate a unique air-clad silicon pedestal waveguide. The sensing mechanism of our Mid-IR waveguide sensor is based on evanescent wave absorption by functional groups of the surrounding chemical molecules, which selectively absorb specific wavelengths in the mid-IR, depending on the nature of their chemical bonds. From a measurement of the waveguide mode intensities, we demonstrate in situ identification of chemical compositions and concentrations of organic solvents. For instance, we show that when testing at = 3.55 m, the Mid-IR sensor can distinguish hexane from the rest of the tested analytes (methanol, toluene, carbon tetrachloride, ethanol and acetone), since hexane has a strong absorption from the aliphatic C-H stretch at = 3.55 m. Analogously, applying the same technique at = 3.3 m, the Mid-IR sensor is able to determine the concentration of toluene dissolved in carbon tetrachloride, because toluene has a strong absorption at = 3.3 m from the aromatic C-H stretch. With our demonstration of an air-clad silicon pedestal waveguide sensor, we move closer towards the ultimate goal of an ultra-compact portable spectrometer-on-a-chip.

published proceedings

  • Lab Chip

altmetric score

  • 6

author list (cited authors)

  • Lin, P. T., Singh, V., Hu, J., Richardson, K., Musgraves, J. D., Luzinov, I., ... Agarwal, A.

citation count

  • 68

complete list of authors

  • Lin, Pao Tai||Singh, Vivek||Hu, Juejun||Richardson, Kathleen||Musgraves, J David||Luzinov, Igor||Hensley, Joel||Kimerling, Lionel C||Agarwal, Anu

publication date

  • June 2013