(174c) Portable Sensors Based on Integrated Photonics
Innovation in technology routinely leads the way for discovery in chemistry and biology. Most notably, x-ray diffraction data was instrumental in the elucidation of the structure of DNA. To explore the inherent complexity present in biological systems, existing technologies are being pushed to their limits. Once again, scientists are looking to engineers to create innovative solutions to enable their exploration and discovery. However, the emphasis is governed by the specific application. While sensitivity enhancement is critical to achieve single molecule detection levels, in many applications, improved stability and reduced false-positive rates are of higher importance. Therefore, specific challenges posed by discussions with medical researchers and physicians should also be considered. For example, we have recently demonstrated a fully integrated, portable polarimetric fiber sensor instrument for characterizing the mechanical properties of visco-elastic materials. By combining polarization-maintaining fiber, an integrated laser and a polarimeter, all free-space components which were required in previous systems have been eliminated. This reduction in complexity eliminates alignment steps and decreases the overall footprint of the system. A side-by-side comparison with a loadframe shows similar accuracy when determining a series of visco-elastic materials with Young’s Modulus values spanning over an order of magnitude. Moreover, the system’s performance in a range of environments, ranging from in a fumehood to on an optical table, shows sufficient robustness against environmental noise to enable characterization of low Young’s Moduli materials, such as tissue. This portable system shows promise for rapid testing and characterization of human tissue samples. This will enable numerous types of biomedical research investigations and new diagnostic methods.