Recent studies on ultrafine particles (UFP), which are smaller than 100 nm, emphasized their hazardous potential to the human organism. They are comparable in size to typical nano-organisms such as viruses and can penetrate physiological barriers in a similar way. Currently, there are no low-cost and miniaturized detectors for UFP available. In our first experiments with an integrated evanescent field particle detector, we could already successfully detect single 200 nm polystyrene latex (PSL) spheres, although the implemented waveguide geometry was only rudimentary optimized with costly 3D simulations. We developed a fast and structured optimization model for waveguide geometry and operation wavelength of an integrated evanescent field particle detector in order to exploit its full potential for the detection of discrete analytes in the UFP size range. The optimization model is based on a modified formulation of Mie theory and its computational effort is reduced by a factor of 100 compared to 3D simulations. The optimization potential of the sensor response signal is demonstrated for several waveguide geometries that can be produced with established semiconductor fabrication technology at high production volumes and low costs. An optimized silicon nitride waveguide features sensor response signals that are about one order of magnitude higher compared to previous experiments, which pushes the limit of detection even further down to particle sizes below 100 nm. A small integrated evanescent field particle detector based on this optimized waveguide will be used for the first low-cost and miniaturized devices that can monitor the personal exposure to UFP.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics