Open Access Special Issue Article

Toward Automatic Label-Free Whispering Gallery Modes Biodetection with a Quantum Dot-Coated Microsphere Population

M Charlebois1, A Paquet1, LS Verret1, K Boissinot2, M Boissinot2, MG Bergeron2 and C Nì. Allen1*

Author Affiliations

1 Centre d’Optique, Photonique et Laser (COPL), Département de physique, de génie physique et d’optique, Université Laval, Quebec, QC, G1V 0A6, Canada

2 Centre de Recherche en Infectiologie de l’Université Laval, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Québec (Pavillon CHUL), Quebec, QC, G1V 4G2, Canada

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2010, 5:524-532  doi:10.1007/s11671-010-9541-1

Published: 20 February 2010


We explore a new calibration-free approach to biodetection based on whispering gallery modes (WGMs) without a reference measure and relative shifts. Thus, the requirement to keep track of the sensor position is removed, and a freely moving population of fluorophore-doped polystyrene microspheres can now fulfill this role of sensing resonator. Breaking free from fixed surface-based biosensing promotes adhesion between the microsphere sensors and the analytes since both can now be thoroughly mixed. The 70-nm-wide spectrum of green fluorescent microbeads allows us to monitor over 20 WGMs simultaneously without needing evanescent light coupling into the microspheres, hence enabling remote sensing. Since the exact radius of each microsphere is unknown a priori, it requires algorithmic analyses to obtain a reliable result for the refractive index of a solution. We first test our approach with different solutions of alcohol in water obtaining 3 × 10−4 precision on the refractive index at lower concentrations. Then, the solutions of bacterial spores in water yield clear evidence of biodetection in the statistical analysis of WGMs from 50 microspheres. To extend the fluorescence spectral range of our WGM sensors, we present preliminary results on coating microspheres with CdSe/ZnS quantum dots.

Whispering gallery modes; Biodetection; Optical resonances; Morphology-dependant resonances; Refractometers; Microspheres; Sensors