Polymer photonics for biochemical sensing applications

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Polymer photonics for biochemical sensing applications

Faculty Advisor: Dirk Englund
Mentor(s): Hannah Clevenson
Contact e-mail: hannahac@mit.edu
Research Area(s): Applied Physics, BioEECS, Energy, Materials and Devices, Nanotechnology, Theoretical Computer Science
Prerequisites: Strong CAD skills, E&M, Optics, chemistry/biology background

Description of project and expected outcomes:
Sensing volatile gases and alcoholic vapors is very important in a variety of fields, from law enforcement and national security to industrial and environmental safety. There are many advantages to using optical sensors for these applications, including high signal-to-noise ratio, high resolution of detection, operation in ambient conditions, electromagnetic immunity and electrical isolation, physical compactness and lightness, and a wide dynamic range. Photonic crystal cavities and resonators are able to further amplify these optical signals. Previous work has used materials that are sensitive to particular vapors, such as polymers, as coatings for their optical sensors. We construct our sensor out of these sensitive polymeric materials, yielding increased sensitivity and resolution. Specifically, tasks will involve using CAD tools to develop patterns for electron beam lithography, functionalizing polymer surfaces for specific biochemical agents, learning about the existing experimental setup, running experiments, and data analysis. This exciting opportunity will allow the student to be involved in many steps of the research process and acquire skills that will be useful for careers in research, industry, or academia.

Background Literature:
1. C. L. C. Smith, J. U. Lind, C. H. Nielsen, M. B. Christiansen, T. Buss, N. B. Larsen, and A. Kristensen, Enhanced transduction of photonic crystal dye lasers for gas sensing via swelling polymer film. Optics letters 36, 1392-4(2011).

2. F. Zee and J. W. Judy, Micromachined polymer-based chemical gas sensor array, Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical 72, 120-128 (2001).

3. M. El-Sherif, L. Bansal, and J. Yuan, Fiber Optic Sensors For Detection of Toxic and Biological Threats, Sensors 7, 3100-3118 (2007).

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