A compact spectrometer-on-a-chip featuring a plasmonic molecular interaction region has been conceived, designed, modeled, and partially fabricated. The silicon-on-insulator (SOI) system is the chosen platform for the integration. The low loss of both silicon and SiO2 between 3 and 4 μm wavelengths enables silicon waveguides on SiO2 as the basis for molecular sensors at these wavelengths. Important characteristic molecular vibrations occur in this range, namely the bond stretching modes C-H (Alkynes), O-H (monomeric alcohols, phenols) and N-H (Amines), as well as CO double bonds, NH2, and CN. The device consists of a broad-band infrared LED, photonic waveguides, photon-to-plasmon transformers, a molecular interaction region, dispersive structures, and detectors. Photonic waveguide modes are adiabatically converted into SPPs on a neighboring metal surface by a tapered waveguide. The plasmonic interaction region enhances optical intensity, which allows a reduction of the overall device size without a reduction of the interaction length, in comparison to ordinary optical methods. After the SPPs propagate through the interaction region, they are converted back into photonic waveguide modes by a second taper. The dispersing region consists of a series of micro-ring resonators with photodetectors coupled to each resonator. Design parameters were optimized via electro-dynamic simulations. Fabrication was performed using a combination of photo- and electron-beam-lithography together with standard silicon processing techniques.
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