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Integrated semiconductor vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers and PIN photodetectors for biomedical fluorescence sensing

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9 Author(s)
Thrush, E. ; Solid State & Photonics Lab., Stanford Univ., CA, USA ; Levi, O. ; Ha, W. ; Carey, G.
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Vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs), optical emission filters, and PIN photodetectors were fabricated as part of a monolithically integrated near-infrared fluorescence detection system. The integration of these micro-fabricated components with micro-arrays, flow channel arrays, and biochips can drastically reduce cost and enable parallel sensing architectures. An optoelectronic design is presented that integrates VCSELs, optical filters, and photodetectors through a modification to a typical VCSEL structure. System designs were simulated and compared, leading to several innovative approaches for integrated sensors. The laser and detector modules were characterized independently and subsequently integrated to form a complete sensor. VCSELs with oxidation apertures measuring 4, 7, 14, and 20 μm showed a lasing wavelength of λ=773 nm, threshold current densities from 6400 to 1300 A·cm-2, and maximum output powers of 0.6-4 mW, with transverse single-mode and multimode operation. PIN photodetectors were fabricated with integrated emission filters. Quantum efficiencies above 85% were observed with a dark current of 500 fA/(mm detector diameter). Complete sensor units were tested and near-infrared fluorescent molecules (IR-800) were detected. A theoretical detection limit of 105 fluorophores/μm2 was determined. The compact parallel architecture, high-power laser, and low-noise photodetector make this sensor a good candidate for biomedical fluorescence-based sensing applications.

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Quantum Electronics, IEEE Journal of  (Volume:40 ,  Issue: 5 )