This dissertation presents research on the fabrication of optofluidic sensor platforms, which consist of integrated hollow waveguides and solid waveguides. Antiresonant reflecting optical waveguides (ARROWs) filled with liquids or gases, can be used for high-sensitivity sensing in applications of biotechnology, chemical synthesis, and analytical chemistry. The fabrication method developed for integrated ARROW sensing platforms utilizes standard microfabrication processes and materials. Dielectric cladding layers are deposited on a silicon wafer using plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) or sputtering. A sacrificial material is then patterned over the bottom cladding layers by photolithography. Additional dielectric layers are deposited around the core, forming the structure of the waveguides. Integrated solid-core waveguides can be easily created by etching a ridge into the topmost dielectric cladding layer. The hollow core waveguides are then formed by wet etching the sacrificial core material. The coupling efficiency between solid core and hollow core waveguides is extremely important for the platform's overall sensitivity. Efficiencies can be enhanced from 18% to 67% by adjusting the thickness of the thick top oxide. Experimental results prove that optical throughput was improved by 17.1× with this improved interface transmission. Sputtered films were investigated as an alternative to for producing cladding layers. The experimental results reveal that sputtered layers show poor adhesion and mechanical strength which make them unreliable for hollow waveguides with small dimension. High-sensitivity ARROW platforms were obtained by employing hybrid layers (PECVD SiO2 and sputtered Ta2O5) as claddings and building waveguides on self-aligned pedestals. The photolumiscence background was only 1/10 that of previous devices made with SiO2/SiN and the average signal-to-noise ratio was improved by 12×.



College and Department

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



Date Submitted


Document Type





hollow waveguides, sputter, photolumiscence, PECVD, plasma etching, signal-to-noise ratio