How Fast It Can Stick: Visualizing Flow Delivery to Microtoroid Biosensors

Sartanee Suebka, Phuong Diem Nguyen, Adley Gin, Judith Su

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Sensitive and rapid biosensors are of critical importance for a variety of applications including infectious disease detection and monitoring as well as medical diagnostics and drug discovery. Whispering gallery mode microtoroid optical resonators are among the most sensitive biochemical sensors in existence. When combined with frequency-locking and data-processing techniques, these sensors have been shown to be capable of single-molecule detection in under 30 s. The sensitivity of these sensors is affected by how a concentration of analyte molecules is transported to the surface of the sensors and the average time it takes the molecules to bind at that concentration. Currently, one question in the field is that at these low concentrations, how these microsensors achieve such rapid response times. Here, we reconcile theory and experiment and demonstrate through flow visualization experiments and finite-element simulations that the total analyte arrival and binding time can be on the order of seconds. This fast response time provides an advantage over nanoscale sensors such as nanowires or nanorods. We anticipate that these results can help us to control, with confidence, when and how many molecules bind to these sensors, thus enabling the building of faster and more sensitive sensors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2700-2708
Number of pages9
JournalACS Sensors
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 23 2021


  • advection
  • analyte transport time
  • diffusion
  • flow visualization
  • microtoroid optical resonator
  • whispering gallery mode

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Instrumentation
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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