B. Doherty, A. Csáki, M. Thiele, M. Zeisberger, A. Schwuchow, J. Kobelke, W. Fritzsche, and M. Schmidt, "Nanoparticle functionalised small-core suspended-core fibre – a novel platform for efficient sensing," Biomed. Opt. Express 8, 790-799 (2017).
Detecting small quantities of specific target molecules is of major importance within bioanalytics for efficient disease diagnostics. One promising sensing approach relies on combining plasmonically-active waveguides with microfluidics yielding an easy-to-use sensing platform. Here we introduce suspended-core fibres containing immobilised plasmonic nanoparticles surrounding the guiding core as a concept for an entirely integrated optofluidic platform for efficient refractive index sensing. Due to the extremely small optical core and the large adjacent microfluidic channels, over two orders of magnitude of nanoparticle coverage densities have been accessed with millimetre-long sample lengths showing refractive index sensitivities of 170 nm/RIU for aqueous analytes where the fibre interior is functionalised by gold nanospheres. Our concept represents a fully integrated optofluidic sensing system demanding small sample volumes and allowing for real-time analyte monitoring, both of which are highly relevant within invasive bioanalytics, particularly within molecular disease diagnostics and environmental science.