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See detailOptical study of diffraction grating/Fresnel lens combinations applied to a spectral-splitting solar concentrator for space applications
Michel, Céline ULg; Loicq, Jerôme ULg; Thibert, Tanguy ULg et al

in Applied Optics (2015), 54(22), 6666-6673

This paper presents a new design of a planar solar concentrator with spectral splitting of light for space applications. This concentrator spectrally splits the incident light into mainly two parts. Each ... [more ▼]

This paper presents a new design of a planar solar concentrator with spectral splitting of light for space applications. This concentrator spectrally splits the incident light into mainly two parts. Each part is then focused onto specific spatially separated photovoltaic cells, allowing for independent control of respective cells output power. These advantages of both spectral splitting and light focusing are here combined thanks to a specific diffraction grating superimposed on a Fresnel lens. The theoretical principle of the optical design is presented, with optimization of each element and improvement steps, including optimization of grating period evolution along the lens, and testing of two kinds of gratings (a blazed and a lamellar one). First numerical results are presented, highlighting the possibility to design a concentrator at about 10× or more for each cell, with an output power larger than that of a classical concentrator focusing on a GaAs SJ cell, and less than 10% of losses for tracking errors up to ±0.8°. Some experimental results are also presented. [less ▲]

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See detailPolarization holography for vortex retarders recording: laboratory demonstration
Piron, Pierre ULg; Blain, Pascal ULg; Décultot, Marc ULg et al

in Applied Optics (2015), 54(15), 4765--4770

This paper will present a prototype of the first set of vortex retarders made of liquid crystal polymers recorded by polarization holography. Vortex retarders are birefringent plates characterized by a ... [more ▼]

This paper will present a prototype of the first set of vortex retarders made of liquid crystal polymers recorded by polarization holography. Vortex retarders are birefringent plates characterized by a rotation of their fast axis. Liquid crystals possess birefringent properties and they are locally orientable. Their orientation is defined by the perpendicular to the local orientation of the recording field. Polarization holography is a purely optical recording method. It is based on the superimposition of coherent and differently polarized beams. It is used to shape the electric field pattern to enable the recording of vortex retarders. The paper details the mathematical model of the superimposition process. The recording setup is exposed; it is characterized by a nearly common path interferometer. Two sets of measurements allowing the prediction of the retarder’s features are presented and compared. Finally, the experimentally recorded retarder is shown, its characteristics are investigated and compared to the predicted ones. [less ▲]

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See detailOptical Study of a Spectrum Splitting Solar Concentrator based on a Combination of a Diffraction Grating and a Fresnel Lens
Michel, Céline ULg; Loicq, Jerôme ULg; Thibert, Tanguy ULg et al

Poster (2015, April 14)

This poster presents recent improvements of our new solar concentrator design for space application. The concentrator is based on a combination of a diffraction grating (blazed or lamellar) coupled with a ... [more ▼]

This poster presents recent improvements of our new solar concentrator design for space application. The concentrator is based on a combination of a diffraction grating (blazed or lamellar) coupled with a Fresnel lens. Thanks to this diffractive/refractive combination, this optical element splits spatially and spectrally the light and focus approximately respectively visible light and IR light onto electrically independent specific cells. It avoid the use of MJs cells and then also their limitations like current matching and lattice matching conditions, leading theoretically to a more tolerant system. The concept is reminded, with recent optimizations, ideal and more realistic results, and the description of an experimental realization highlighting the feasibility of the concept, and the closeness of theoretical and experimental results. [less ▲]

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See detailExperimental astrochemistry: from ground-based to space-borne laboratories (Foreword)
De Becker, Michaël ULg; Cottin, Hervé; Fleury-Frenette, Karl ULg et al

in Bulletin de la Société Royale des Sciences de Liège (2015, January), 84(4-6),

The investigation of the origin and evolution of molecules in space environments, either in interstellar or interplanetary conditions, constitutes a topic of high importance in modern space sciences. The ... [more ▼]

The investigation of the origin and evolution of molecules in space environments, either in interstellar or interplanetary conditions, constitutes a topic of high importance in modern space sciences. The presence of diversified and complex molecules motivates astrochemists to explore their formation mechanisms along with the physical conditions ruling these physico-chemical processes. Beside theoretical approaches aiming at simulating these processes, experimental techniques are nowadays frequently applied. Both laboratory and space experiment projects allow to reproduce to some extent the adequate conditions to understand some of these processes. The most recent results based on these techniques, and the prospects for future investigations, including the use of space platforms, were the scientific motivation of this workshop. These proceedings summarize a part of the content of this workshop, including abundant references to the relevant bibliography. [less ▲]

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See detailOptical Study of a Spectrum Splitting Solar Concentrator based on a Combination of a Diffraction Grating and a Fresnel Lens
Michel, Céline ULg; Loicq, Jerôme ULg; Thibert, Tanguy ULg et al

in AIP Conference Proceedings (2015)

This paper presents recent improvements of our new solar concentrator design for space application. The concentrator is based on a combination of a diffraction grating (blazed or lamellar) coupled with a ... [more ▼]

This paper presents recent improvements of our new solar concentrator design for space application. The concentrator is based on a combination of a diffraction grating (blazed or lamellar) coupled with a Fresnel lens. Thanks to this diffractive/refractive combination, this optical element splits spatially and spectrally the light and focus approximately respectively visible light and IR light onto electrically independent specific cells. It avoid the use of MJs cells and then also their limitations like current matching and lattice matching conditions, leading theoretically to a more tolerant system. The concept is reminded, with recent optimizations, ideal and more realistic results, and the description of an experimental realization highlighting the feasibility of the concept and the closeness of theoretical and experimental results. [less ▲]

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See detailRealizing the diamond annular groove phase masks for the mid infrared region: five years of successful process development of diamond plasma etching
Forsberg, Pontus; Vargas Catalan, Ernesto; Delacroix, Christian ULg et al

in Navarro, Ramon; Cunningham, Colin; Barto, Allison (Eds.) Advances in Optical and Mechanical Technologies for Telescopes and Instrumentation (2014, August 07)

The Annular Groove Phase Mask (AGPM) is a circularly symmetric half wave plate consisting of a circular high aspect ratio sub-wavelength grating. Here we present a method for realizing such structures in ... [more ▼]

The Annular Groove Phase Mask (AGPM) is a circularly symmetric half wave plate consisting of a circular high aspect ratio sub-wavelength grating. Here we present a method for realizing such structures in diamond. To improve the AGPM performance, antireflective sub-wavelength gratings are etched on the backside of the components, and such gratings are also discussed. Components for the N-band (around 10 μm) and the L-band (around 3.8 μm) have been successfully fabricated. We are currently developing the process further to improve the precision of the gratings and produce an AGPM for the K-band (around 2.2 μm). © (2014) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only. [less ▲]

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See detailL'-band AGPM vector vortex coronagraph's first light on LBTI/LMIRCam
Defrère, D.; Absil, Olivier ULg; Hinz, P. et al

in Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering (2014, July 21)

We present the first observations obtained with the L'-band AGPM vortex coronagraph recently installed on LBTI/LMIRCam. The AGPM (Annular Groove Phase Mask) is a vector vortex coronagraph made from ... [more ▼]

We present the first observations obtained with the L'-band AGPM vortex coronagraph recently installed on LBTI/LMIRCam. The AGPM (Annular Groove Phase Mask) is a vector vortex coronagraph made from diamond subwavelength gratings. It is designed to improve the sensitivity and dynamic range of high-resolution imaging at very small inner working angles, down to 0.09 arcseconds in the case of LBTI/LMIRCam in the L' band. During the first hours on sky, we observed the young A5V star HR8799 with the goal to demonstrate the AGPM performance and assess its relevance for the ongoing LBTI planet survey (LEECH). Preliminary analyses of the data reveal the four known planets clearly at high SNR and provide unprecedented sensitivity limits in the inner planetary system (down to the diffraction limit of 0.09 arcseconds). © 2014 SPIE. [less ▲]

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See detailThe VORTEX project: first results and perspectives
Absil, Olivier ULg; Mawet, Dimitri; Delacroix, Christian ULg et al

in Marchetti, Enrico; Close, Laird; Véran, Jean-Pierre (Eds.) Adaptive Optics Systems IV (2014, July 21)

Vortex coronagraphs are among the most promising solutions to perform high contrast imaging at small angular separations from bright stars. They feature a very small inner working angle (down to the ... [more ▼]

Vortex coronagraphs are among the most promising solutions to perform high contrast imaging at small angular separations from bright stars. They feature a very small inner working angle (down to the diffraction limit of the telescope), a clear 360 degree discovery space, have demonstrated very high contrast capabilities, are easy to implement on high-contrast imaging instruments, and have already been extensively tested on the sky. Since 2005, we have been designing, developing and testing an implementation of the charge-2 vector vortex phase mask based on concentric sub-wavelength gratings, referred to as the Annular Groove Phase Mask (AGPM). Science-grade mid-infrared AGPMs were produced in 2012 for the first time, using plasma etching on synthetic diamond substrates. They have been validated on a coronagraphic test bench, showing broadband peak rejection up to 500:1 in the L band, which translates into a raw contrast of about 6e-5 at 2λ/D. Three of them have now been installed on world-leading diffraction-limited infrared cameras, namely VLT/NACO, VLT/VISIR and LBT/LMIRCam. During the science verification observations with our L-band AGPM on NACO, we observed the beta Pictoris system and obtained unprecedented sensitivity limits to planetary companions down to the diffraction limit (0.1"). More recently, we obtained new images of the HR 8799 system at L band during the AGPM first light on LMIRCam. After reviewing these first results obtained with mid-infrared AGPMs, we will discuss the short- and mid-term goals of the on-going VORTEX project, which aims to improve the performance of our vortex phase masks for future applications on second-generation high-contrast imager and on future extremely large telescopes (ELTs). In particular, we will briefly describe our current efforts to improve the manufacturing of mid-infrared AGPMs, to push their operation to shorter wavelengths, and to provide deeper starlight extinction by creating new designs for higher topological charge vortices. Within the VORTEX project, we also plan to develop new image processing techniques tailored to coronagraphic images, and to study some pre- and post-coronagraphic concepts adapted to the vortex coronagraph in order to reduce scattered starlight in the final images. [less ▲]

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See detailThe VORTEX coronagraphic test bench
Jolivet, Aïssa ULg; Piron, Pierre ULg; Huby, Elsa ULg et al

in Navarro, Ramon; Cunningham, Colin; Barto, Allison (Eds.) Advances in Optical and Mechanical Technologies for Telescopes and Instrumentation (2014, July 18)

In this paper, we present the infrared coronagraphic test bench of the University of Liège named VODCA (Vortex Optical Demonstrator for Coronagraphic Applications). The goal of the bench is to assess the ... [more ▼]

In this paper, we present the infrared coronagraphic test bench of the University of Liège named VODCA (Vortex Optical Demonstrator for Coronagraphic Applications). The goal of the bench is to assess the performances of the Annular Groove Phase Masks (AGPMs) at near- to mid-infrared wavelengths. The AGPM is a subwavelength grating vortex coronagraph of charge two (SGVC2) made out of diamond. The bench is designed to be completely achromatic and will be composed of a super continuum laser source emitting in the near to mid-infrared, several parabolas, diaphragms and an infrared camera. This way, we will be able to test the different AGPMs in the M, L, K and H bands. Eventually, the bench will also allow the computation of the incident wavefront aberrations on the coronagraph. A reflective Lyot stop will send most of the stellar light to a second camera to perform low-order wavefront sensing. This second system coupled with a deformable mirror will allow the correction of the wavefront aberrations. We also aim to test other pre- and/or post-coronagraphic concepts such as optimal apodization. © (2014) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only. [less ▲]

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See detailDevelopment of a subwavelength grating vortex coronagraph of topological charge 4 (SGVC4)
Delacroix, Christian ULg; Absil, Olivier ULg; Carlomagno, Brunella ULg et al

in Ramsay, Suzanne; McLean, Ian; Takami, Hideki (Eds.) Ground-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy V (2014, July 08)

One possible solution to achieve high contrast direct imaging at a small inner working angle (IWA) is to use a vector vortex coronagraph (VVC), which provides a continuous helical phase ramp in the focal ... [more ▼]

One possible solution to achieve high contrast direct imaging at a small inner working angle (IWA) is to use a vector vortex coronagraph (VVC), which provides a continuous helical phase ramp in the focal plane of the telescope with a phase singularity in its center. Such an optical vortex is characterized by its topological charge, i.e., the number of times the phase accumulates 2pi radians along a closed path surrounding the singularity. Over the past few years, we have been developing a charge-2 VVC induced by rotationally symmetric subwavelength gratings (SGVC2), also known as the Annular Groove Phase Mask (AGPM). Since 2013, several SGVC2s (or AGPMs) were manufactured using synthetic diamond substrate, then validated on dedicated optical benches, and installed on 10-m class telescopes. Increasing the topological charge seems however mandatory for cancelling the light of bright stars which will be partially resolved by future Extremely Large Telescopes in the near-infrared. In this paper, we first detail our motivations for developing an SGVC4 (charge 4) dedicated to the near-infrared domain. The challenge lies in the design of the pattern which is unrealistic in the theoretically perfect case, due to state-of-the-art manufacturing limitations. Hence, we propose a new realistic design of SGVC4 with minimized discontinuities and optimized phase ramp, showing conclusive improvements over previous works in this field. A preliminary validation of our concept is given based on RCWA simulations, while full 3D finite-difference time-domain simulations (and eventually laboratory tests) will be required for a final validation. [less ▲]

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See detailMid-IR AGPMs for ELT applications
Carlomagno, Brunella ULg; Delacroix, Christian ULg; Absil, Olivier ULg et al

in Ramsay, Suzanne; McLean, Ian; Takami, Hideki (Eds.) Ground-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy V (2014, July 08)

The mid-infrared region is well suited for exoplanet detection thanks to the reduced contrast between the planet and its host star with respect to the visible and near-infrared wavelength regimes. This ... [more ▼]

The mid-infrared region is well suited for exoplanet detection thanks to the reduced contrast between the planet and its host star with respect to the visible and near-infrared wavelength regimes. This contrast may be further improved with Vector Vortex Coronagraphs (VVCs), which allow us to cancel the starlight. One flavour of the VVC is the AGPM (Annular Groove Phase Mask), which adds the interesting properties of subwavelength gratings (achromaticity, robustness) to the already known properties of the VVC. In this paper, we present the optimized designs, as well as the expected performances of mid-IR AGPMs etched onto synthetic diamond substrates, which are considered for the E-ELT/METIS instrument. [less ▲]

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See detailInvestigation of spectral impacts on the performance of a concentration device using a Fresnel lens combined with a double junction cell
Loicq, Jerôme ULg; Galante, Nicolas ULg; Thibert, Tanguy ULg et al

in Proceedings of SPIE (2014, May 15)

This experimental study was carried out within the context of high concentration photovoltaics. The paper presents the results of an experimental investigation relating to the quantification of the ... [more ▼]

This experimental study was carried out within the context of high concentration photovoltaics. The paper presents the results of an experimental investigation relating to the quantification of the impacts of the chromatic effect on the performance of a double junction GaInP/GaAs solar cell. Chromatic effects are the result of material dispersion caused by the refractive optics component. This study aims to evaluate the effect of the spectral modification of the incident beam on the whole solar concentrator system performance. Such considerations are fundamental in producing a highly accurate design, with which to achieve the best possible system performance. Efficiency is evaluated within the vicinity of the focus of a Fresnel lens designed for concentration. On the optical axis, rays with different wavelengths are not focalized at the same points. The spectral content of the beam depends, therefore, upon the position of the cell along the optical axis. It is assumed that spectral content modification may have an impact on cell performance and, as a consequence, on system efficiency as a whole. Efficiency of the optical Fresnel lens and of the cell were evaluated in relation to spectral content modification. [less ▲]

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See detailSpectral splitting planar solar concentrator : Design and Experimental testing Preliminary results
Blain, Pascal ULg; Michel, Céline ULg; Clermont, Lionel ULg et al

in Proceedings of SPIE (2014, May 15), 9140

We present a new concept in solar concentrator: spectral splitting. It implies reflective, refractive and diffractive elements that allow two spectrally differentiated beams to reach different and/or ... [more ▼]

We present a new concept in solar concentrator: spectral splitting. It implies reflective, refractive and diffractive elements that allow two spectrally differentiated beams to reach different and/or unmatched lattice solar cells. Those cells efficiencies are then enhanced. The aimed geometrical concentration factor is 5× and the theoretical optical efficiency of that concentrator concept reaches 82%. [less ▲]

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See detailFirst prototypes of vortex retarders obtained by polarization holography
Piron, Pierre ULg; Blain, Pascal ULg; Décultot, Marc ULg et al

in Proceedings of SPIE (2014, May), 9099

This paper will present the first prototypes of vortex retarders made of photo-orientable liquid crystals polymers recorded without mechanical action using only polarization holography. Vortex retarders ... [more ▼]

This paper will present the first prototypes of vortex retarders made of photo-orientable liquid crystals polymers recorded without mechanical action using only polarization holography. Vortex retarders are birefringent plates characterized by a uniform phase retard and a rotation of their fast axis along their center. Liquid crystals are anisotropic molecules possessing birefringent properties. They are locally orientable and their orientation defines the fast axis orientation of the retarder. Their alignment depends on the local orientation of the recording electric field. The superimposition of several polarized beams will be used to shape the electric field to achieve the recording of vortex retarders. The mathematical aspects of the superimposition process, as well as several numerical simulations are exposed. Finally, the first prototypes are presented, characterized and compared to the numerical simulations. [less ▲]

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See detailStudy of a solar concentrator for space based on a diffractive/refractive optical combination
Michel, Céline ULg; Loicq, Jerôme ULg; Thibert, Tanguy ULg et al

Conference (2014, April 16)

The present work proposes a theoretical optical study of a new planar solar concentrator for space applications. The concentrator focuses light onto three spatially separated photovoltaic cells (three ... [more ▼]

The present work proposes a theoretical optical study of a new planar solar concentrator for space applications. The concentrator focuses light onto three spatially separated photovoltaic cells (three single-junctions, dedicated to two different light spectra), allowing for independent control of the output power of each cell. The design, based on a blazed diffraction grating superimposed on a Fresnel lens, combines advantages of both spectral splitting and light focusing. Theoretical model and optimization of the optical design are presented, including the variation of the grating period along the lens. Numerical results are detailed, highlighting the possibility to design a concentrator at more than 10× for each cell, with an optical efficiency of ~71% and less than 10% of losses for tracking errors < ±0.85°. A thermal study completes the work, as well as a first theoretical comparison with a planar Fresnel based solar concentrator focusing on a GaAs cell. [less ▲]

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See detailObserving the Sun with micro-interferometric devices: a didactic experiment
Defrere, D.; Absil, Olivier ULg; Hanot, C. et al

in Surdej, Jean; Le Coroller, Hervé; Arnold, Luc (Eds.) Improving the Performances of Current Optical Interferometers & Future Designs (2014, April 01)

Measuring the angular diameter of celestial bodies has long been the main purpose of stellar interferometry and was its historical motivation. Nowadays, stellar interferometry is widely used for various ... [more ▼]

Measuring the angular diameter of celestial bodies has long been the main purpose of stellar interferometry and was its historical motivation. Nowadays, stellar interferometry is widely used for various other scientific purposes that require very high angular resolution measurements. In terms of angular spatial scales probed, o [less ▲]

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See detailL'-band AGPM vector vortex coronagraph's first light on LBTI/LMIRCAM
Defrere, D.; Absil, Olivier ULg; Hinz, P. et al

Poster (2014, March)

We present the first science observations obtained with the L'-band AGPM coronagraph recently installed on LBTI/LMIRCAM. The AGPM (Annular Groove Phase Mask) is a vector vortex coronagraph made from ... [more ▼]

We present the first science observations obtained with the L'-band AGPM coronagraph recently installed on LBTI/LMIRCAM. The AGPM (Annular Groove Phase Mask) is a vector vortex coronagraph made from diamond sub-wavelength gratings tuned to the L'-band. It is designed to improve the sensitivity and dynamic range of high-resolution imaging at very small inner working a [less ▲]

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See detailCompanion search around β Pictoris with the newly commissioned L'-band vector vortex coronagraph on VLT/NACO
Mawet, D.; Absil, Olivier ULg; Milli, J. et al

in Booth, Mark; Matthews, Brenda; Graham, James (Eds.) Exploring the Formation and Evolution of Planetary Systems (2014, January 01)

Here we present the installation and successful commissioning of an L'-band Annular Groove Phase Mask (AGPM) coronagraph on VLT/NACO. The AGPM is a vector vortex coronagraph made from diamond ... [more ▼]

Here we present the installation and successful commissioning of an L'-band Annular Groove Phase Mask (AGPM) coronagraph on VLT/NACO. The AGPM is a vector vortex coronagraph made from diamond subwavelength gratings tuned to the L' band. The vector vortex coronagraph enables high contrast imaging at very small inner working angle (here 0''.09, the diffraction limit of the VLT at L'), potentially being the key to a new parameter space. During technical and science verification runs, we discovered a late-type companion at two beamwidths from an F0V star (Mawet et al. 2013), and imaged the inner regions of β Pictoris down to the previously unexplored projected radius of 1.75 AU. The circumstellar disk was also resolved from ~= 1'' to 5'' (see J. Milli et al., these proceedings). These results showcase the potential of the NACO L-band AGPM over a wide range of spatial scales. [less ▲]

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See detailOptical study of a solar concentrator for space applications based on a diffractive/refractive optical combination
Michel, Céline ULg; Loicq, Jerôme ULg; Languy, Fabian ULg et al

in Solar Energy Materials & Solar Cells (2014), 120PA

This paper presents a new design of a planar solar concentrator for space applications. The concentrator focuses light onto two spatially separated photovoltaic cells, allowing for independent control of ... [more ▼]

This paper presents a new design of a planar solar concentrator for space applications. The concentrator focuses light onto two spatially separated photovoltaic cells, allowing for independent control of the output power of each cell. Thanks to a blazed diffraction grating superimposed on a Fresnel lens, advantages of both spectral splitting and light focusing can be combined. The theoretical model of the optical design is presented, with the optimization of either element. Moreover, configuration improvement is proposed: a symmetrical configuration composed of two lenses. First numerical results are presented, highlighting the possibility to design a concentrator at about 10× for each cell, with an optical efficiency of about 75% and less than 10% of losses for tracking errors lower than ±0.9°. [less ▲]

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See detailTransmitive spectral SPR droplet biosensing: principle, sensor design and experimental demonstration
Hastanin, Juriy ULg; Lenaerts, Cedric ULg; Fleury-Frenette, Karl ULg et al

in Plasmonics (2013)

Surface Plasmons Resonance (SPR) architectures based on grating coupler/disperser combination is an attractive alternative for spectral-based biochemical sensing. In this paper, we investigate ... [more ▼]

Surface Plasmons Resonance (SPR) architectures based on grating coupler/disperser combination is an attractive alternative for spectral-based biochemical sensing. In this paper, we investigate theoretically and experimentally a new concept where the plasmon coupling occurs through a thin film grating and sensing occurs via the first evanescent diffraction order in transmitive mode. The surface plasmon wave excitation induces a peak in the wavelength as well as in the angular spectra of the detected first transmitted diffraction order. Accordingly, a change in SPR spectrum of the detected diffraction order can be used to quantify the amount of the target molecules immobilized on the sensor surface and therefore, the concentration of these molecules in the analyte solution. The developed sensor architecture is dedicated to droplet biochemical sensing and appears to be especially suitable for biosensor integration and miniaturization. The presented sensor concept is perfectly suited for mass production of low-cost and reproducible SPR sensor chip for biochemical analysis. The implemented setup gives access to multichannel biosensing with the potential for efficient internal referencing, essential to achieve sufficiently high reproducibility and accuracy of the measurements. [less ▲]

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