Ultra-high-Q free-space coupling to microtoroid resonators

Sartanee Suebka, Euan McLeod, Tsu-Te Judith Su

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Whispering gallery mode (WGM) microtoroid resonators are one of the most sensitive biochemical sensors in existence, capable of detecting single molecules. The main barrier for translating these devices out of the laboratory is that light is evanescently coupled into these devices though a tapered optical fiber. This hinders translation of these devices as the taper is fragile, suffers from mechanical vibration, and requires precise positioning. Here, we eliminate the need for an optical fiber by coupling light into and out from a toroid via free-space coupling and monitoring the scattered resonant light. A single long working distance objective lens combined with a digital micromirror device (DMD) was used for light injection, scattered light collection, and imaging. We obtain Q-factors as high as 1.6×108 with this approach. Electromagnetically induced transparency (EIT)-like and Fano resonances were observed in a single cavity due to indirect coupling in free space. This enables improved sensing sensitivity. The large effective coupling area (~10 μm in diameter for numerical aperture = 0.14) removes the need for precise positioning. Sensing performance was verified by combining the system with the frequency locked whispering evanescent resonator (FLOWER) approach to perform temperature sensing experiments. A thermal nonlinear optical effect was examined by tracking the resonance through FLOWER while adjusting the input power. We believe that this work will be a foundation for expanding the implementation of WGM microtoroid resonators to real-world applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number75
JournalLight: Science and Applications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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