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An Approach to Ring Resonator Biosensing Assisted by Dielectrophoresis: Design, Simulation and Fabrication

Henriksson, Anders; Kasper, Laura; Jäger, Matthias; Neubauer, Peter; Birkholz, Mario

The combination of extreme miniaturization with a high sensitivity and the potential to be integrated in an array form on a chip has made silicon-based photonic microring resonators a very attractive research topic. As biosensors are approaching the nanoscale, analyte mass transfer and bonding kinetics have been ascribed as crucial factors that limit their performance. One solution may be a system that applies dielectrophoretic forces, in addition to microfluidics, to overcome the diffusion limits of conventional biosensors. Dielectrophoresis, which involves the migration of polarized dielectric particles in a non-uniform alternating electric field, has previously been successfully applied to achieve a 1000-fold improved detection efficiency in nanopore sensing and may significantly increase the sensitivity in microring resonator biosensing. In the current work, we designed microring resonators with integrated electrodes next to the sensor surface that may be used to explore the effect of dielectrophoresis. The chip design, including two different electrode configurations, electric field gradient simulations, and the fabrication process flow of a dielectrohoresis-enhanced microring resonator-based sensor, is presented in this paper. Finite element method (FEM) simulations calculated for both electrode configurations revealed ∇E2 values above 1017 V2m−3 around the sensing areas. This is comparable to electric field gradients previously reported for successful interactions with larger molecules, such as proteins and antibodies.
Published in: Micromachines, 10.3390/mi11110954, MDPI