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Refractive index sensing in a disposable micro-channel provided with integrated reflectors based on laser beam shift
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1  Department of Electrical, Computer and Biomedical Engineering, University of Pavia, 27100 Pavia, Italy
Academic Editor: Francisco Falcone


In this work, we present a compact micro-opto-fluidic sensing platform for the measurement of volumetric refractive index (RI) variations of ultra-low volumes of fluids with respect to a reference liquid. In the instrumental configuration, we employed a disposable plastic micro-channel, which was customized with integrated back and front Aluminum reflectors, deposited by sputtering. The presence of the double metallization is exploited to create a zig-zag guiding path for the radiation provided by a semiconductor laser diode, so that light crosses the fluid under test multiple times before reaching a 1-D Position Sensitive Detector (PSD). According to Snell law, when fluids with different RI indices fill the channel, the radiation is deflected at different angles and the output beam shifts along the channel surface. RI variations are monitored by measuring the position of the output light spot on the surface of the PSD. To validate the results, a theoretical model based on ray optics was developed to study the propagation of the radiation travelling through the fluidic channel. Experimental results showed a beam displacement per RI unit up to 3234 μm/RIU, in agreement with the prediction of the analytical model. The proposed sensing method is label-free, contactless, non-invasive and biologically safe. Moreover, the micro-opto-fluidic sensing platform could be exploited in a wide range of applications, ranging from biology to medicine to agri-food industry.

Keywords: Disposable device; Laser beam shift; Micro-opto-fluidics; Refractive Index