Rapid biosensing requires fast mass transport of the analyte to the surface of the sensing element. To optimize analysis times, both mass transport in solution and the geometry and size of the sensing element need to be considered. Small dielectric spheres, tens of microns in diameter, can act as label-free biosensors using whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonances. WGM resonances are sensitive to the effective refractive index, which changes upon analyte binding to recognition sites on functionalized resonators. The spherical geometry and tens of microns diameter of these resonators provides an efficient target for sensing while their compact size enables detection in limited volumes. Here, we explore conditions leading to rapid analyte detection using WGM resonators as label-free sensors in 10 μL sample droplets. Droplet evaporation leads to potentially useful convective mixing, but also limits the time over which analysis can be completed. We show that active droplet mixing combined with initial binding rate measurements is required for accurate nanomolar protein quantification within the first minute following injection.
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