We have invented an in-plane all-photonic transduction method for photonic microcantilever arrays that is scalable to large arrays for sensing applications in both bio- and nanotechnology. Our photonic transduction method utilizes a microcantilever forming a single mode rib waveguide and a differential splitter consisting of an asymmetric multimode waveguide and a Y-branch waveguide splitter. The differential splitter's outputs are used to form a differential signal that has a monotonic response to microcantilever deflection. A differential splitter using an amorphous silicon strip-loaded multimode rib waveguide is designed and fabricated to demonstrate the feasibility of the in-plane photonic transduction method. Our initial implementation shows that the sensitivity of the device is 0.135×10^-3 nm^-1 which is comparable to that of other readout methods currently employed for static-deflection based sensors. Through further analysis of the optical characteristics of the differential splitter, a new asymmetric double-step multimode rib waveguide has been devised for the differential splitter. The new differential splitter not only improves sensitivity and reduces size, but also eliminates several fabrication issues. Furthermore, photonic microcantilever arrays are integrated with the differential splitters and a waveguide splitter network in order to demonstrate scalability. We have achieved a measured sensitivity of 0.32×10^-3 nm^-1, which is 2.4 times greater than our initial result while the waveguide length is 6 times shorter. Analytical examination of the relationship between sensitivity and structure of the asymmetric double-step rib waveguide shows a way to further improve performance of the photonic microcantilever sensor. We have demonstrated experimentally that greater sensitivity is achieved when increasing the step height of the double-step rib waveguide. Moreover, the improved sensitivity of the photonic microcantilever system, 0.77×10^-3 nm^-1, is close to the best reported sensitivities of other transduction methods (~10^-3 nm^-1).



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Electrical and Computer Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





Jong Wook Noh, microcantilever, in-plane photonic transduction, photonic microcantilever array sensor