UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Enhancing the performance of silicon photonics biosensors Flueckiger, Jonas


Silicon photonic biosensors have the potential to transform medical diagnostics and healthcare delivery. Hundreds of these nano-scale sensors can be integrated onto a single millimeter-sized silicon substrate. They are fabricated in established CMOS foundries leveraging similar economies-of-scale achieved by electronic integrated circuits. This also enables their potential integration with electronic read out circuitry on a single chip. As near-infrared light propagates through nanoscale silicon wires, a portion of the light resides outside the waveguide interacting with biomolecules on the waveguide’s surface. While silicon photonic biosensors have demonstrated performances approaching today’s gold-standard diagnostic, the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), improving their performance expands the potential use for applications requiring higher sensitivities and detection limits. To this end, this thesis describes efforts to optimize established biosensor configurations and develop novel structures with performance that exceeds commercially available silicon photonic biosensor platforms. This involves improving the bulk and surface sensitivity, detection limit, and quality factor of transverse electric (TE) and magnetic (TM) mode resonators in various waveguide topologies. Specifically, TM mode microring resonators, microdisk resonators, thin waveguide resonators, and the first of its kind sub-wavelength grating microring resonator with a 10X sensitivity improvement over today’s commercially available ring resonators are presented. Furthermore the use novel TE mode slot-waveguide and TM mode strip waveguide Bragg gratings which facilitate higher sensitivities (8X) and lower detection limits for biosensing applications are described. Finally, suspended Bragg grating structures are investigated to further improve sensitivity. To support the design and characterization efforts required to efficiently investigate many different sensors, a testing platform and process design kit (PDK) was developed. The test platform automatically tests hundreds of devices and orchestrates complex, multi-hour assays. The PDK reduces first-time design risk and expedites chip testing. Both have been open-sourced and are in use by more than a dozen academic and commercial research groups in various countries.

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