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Sensors 2016, 16(3), 324;

Sensitivity Enhancement in Si Nanophotonic Waveguides Used for Refractive Index Sensing

Centre for Optical and Electromagnetic Research, State Key Laboratory for Modern Optical Instrumentation, Zhejiang Provincial Key Laboratory for Sensing Technologies, Zhejiang University, Zijingang Campus, Hangzhou 310058, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Vittorio M. N. Passaro
Received: 6 January 2016 / Revised: 23 February 2016 / Accepted: 29 February 2016 / Published: 3 March 2016
(This article belongs to the Section Physical Sensors)
Full-Text   |   PDF [1436 KB, uploaded 3 March 2016]   |  


A comparative study is given for the sensitivity of several typical Si nanophotonic waveguides, including SOI (silicon-on-insulator) nanowires, nanoslot waveguides, suspended Si nanowires, and nanofibers. The cases for gas sensing (ncl ~ 1.0) and liquid sensing (ncl ~ 1.33) are considered. When using SOI nanowires (with a SiO2 buffer layer), the sensitivity for liquid sensing (S ~ 0.55) is higher than that for gas sensing (S ~ 0.35) due to lower asymmetry in the vertical direction. By using SOI nanoslot waveguides, suspended Si nanowires, and Si nanofibers, one could achieve a higher sensitivity compared to sensing with a free-space beam (S = 1.0). The sensitivity for gas sensing is higher than that for liquid sensing due to the higher index-contrast. The waveguide sensitivity of an optimized suspended Si nanowire for gas sensing is as high as 1.5, which is much higher than that of a SOI nanoslot waveguide. Furthermore, the optimal design has very large tolerance to the core width variation due to the fabrication error (∆w ~ ±50 nm). In contrast, a Si nanofiber could also give a very high sensitivity (e.g., ~1.43) while the fabrication tolerance is very small (i.e., ∆w < ±5 nm). The comparative study shows that suspended Si nanowire is a good choice to achieve ultra-high waveguide sensitivity. View Full-Text
Keywords: sensitivity; silicon; nanowire; nanoslot; nanofiber sensitivity; silicon; nanowire; nanoslot; nanofiber

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Shi, Y.; Ma, K.; Dai, D. Sensitivity Enhancement in Si Nanophotonic Waveguides Used for Refractive Index Sensing. Sensors 2016, 16, 324.

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