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Review Label-free detection with high-Q microcavities: a review of biosensing mechanisms for integrated devices

Frank Vollmer
  • Corresponding author
  • Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, Laboratory of Nanophotonics and Biosensing, G.Scharowsky Str. 1, 91058 Erlangen, Germany
  • Email:
/ Lan Yang
  • Corresponding author
  • Electrical and Systems Engineering Department, Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA
Published Online: 2012-12-06 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/nanoph-2012-0021


Optical microcavities that confine light in high-Q resonance promise all of the capabilities required for a successful next-generation microsystem biodetection technology. Label-free detection down to single molecules as well as operation in aqueous environments can be integrated cost-effectively on microchips, together with other photonic components, as well as electronic ones. We provide a comprehensive review of the sensing mechanisms utilized in this emerging field, their physics, engineering and material science aspects, and their application to nanoparticle analysis and biomolecular detection. We survey the most recent developments such as the use of mode splitting for self-referenced measurements, plasmonic nanoantennas for signal enhancements, the use of optical force for nanoparticle manipulation as well as the design of active devices for ultra-sensitive detection. Furthermore, we provide an outlook on the exciting capabilities of functionalized high-Q microcavities in the life sciences.

Keywords: biosensing; integrated photonics; microlasers; optical microcavities; optical trapping; plasmonics; optical resonator; nanoparticle detection

About the article

Corresponding author Edited by Shaya Fainman, UC San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA

Received: 2012-07-25

Accepted: 2012-10-16

Published Online: 2012-12-06

Published in Print: 2012-12-01

Citation Information: Nanophotonics, ISSN (Online) 2192-8614, ISSN (Print) 2192-8606, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/nanoph-2012-0021.

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©2012 by Science Wise Publishing & De Gruyter Berlin Boston. Copyright Clearance Center

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