Spatial resolution and refractive index contrast of resonant photonic crystal surfaces for biosensing

G. J. Triggs*, M. Fischer, D. Stellinga, M. G. Scullion, G. J. O. Evans, T. F. Krauss

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


By depositing a resolution test pattern on top of a Si3N4 photonic crystal resonant surface, we have measured the dependence of spatial resolution on refractive index contrast Δn. Our experimental results and finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) simulations at different refractive index contrasts show that the spatial resolution of our device reduces with reduced contrast, which is an important consideration in biosensing, where the contrast may be of order 10-2. We also compare 1-D and 2-D gratings, taking into account different incidence polarizations, leading to a better understanding of the excitation and propagation of the resonant modes in these structures, as well as how this contributes to the spatial resolution. At Δn = 0.077, we observe resolutions of 2 and 6 μm parallel to and perpendicular to the grooves of a 1-D grating, respectively, and show that for polarized illumination of a 2-D grating, resolution remains asymmetrical. Illumination of a 2-D grating at 45 degrees results in symmetric resolution. At very low index contrast, the resolution worsens dramatically, particularly for Δn <0.01, where we observe a resolution exceeding 10 μm for our device. In addition, we measure a reduction in the resonance linewidth as the index contrast becomes lower, corresponding to a longer resonant mode propagation length in the structure and contributing to the change in spatial resolution.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6801810
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Photonics Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015


  • Resonant surface
  • Biosensor
  • Grating
  • Photonic crystal
  • Spatial resolution
  • Refractive index contrast
  • Polarization


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