Dark mode plasmonic optical microcavity biochemical sensor

Cheng Li, L. E.I. Chen, Euan McLeod, Judith Su

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Whispering gallery mode (WGM) microtoroid optical resonators have been effectively used to sense low concentrations of biomolecules down to the single molecule limit. Optical WGM biochemical sensors such as the microtoroid operate by tracking changes in resonant frequency as particles enter the evanescent near field of the resonator. Previously, gold nanoparticles have been coupled to WGM resonators to increase the magnitude of resonance shifts via plasmonic enhancement of the electric field. However, this approach results in increased scattering from the WGM, which degrades its quality (Q) factor, making it less sensitive to extremely small frequency shifts caused by small molecules or protein conformational changes. Here, we show using simulation that precisely positioned trimer gold nanostructures generate dark modes that suppress radiation loss and can achieve high > 106 Q with an electric-field intensity enhancement of 4300, which far exceeds that of a single rod (∼2500 times). Through an overall evaluation of a combined enhancement factor, which includes the Q factor of the system, the sensitivity of the trimer system was improved 105× versus 84× for a single rod. Further simulations demonstrate that unlike a single rod system, the trimer is robust to orientation changes and has increased capture area. We also conduct stability tests to show that small positioning errors do not greatly impact the result.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)939-947
Number of pages9
JournalPhotonics Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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