A new type of absorbance-based optical sensor is presented. It is based on a chemical transduction membrane that acts simultaneously as the sensing element and as the light guiding medium. This membrane is inserted between two micromachined waveguides in a silica on silicon structure. Light propagates longitudinally through the membrane, which changes its spectral properties accordingly while interacting with the analyte. As the path length corresponds to the membrane length, not its thickness, high sensitivity can be achieved without an increase of the response time. This paper summarizes the design, the construction, and the validation results obtained with integrated waveguide absorbance optode (IWAO) prototypes. The main advantages of the reported optode are its simple configuration, high sensitivity, and versatility. Experimental results obtained with this IWAO, using a potassium-selective bulk optode, are shown and compared to those obtained with a conventional absorbance device incorporating the same membrane. The optimum membrane thickness of 4 μm gave the lowest light losses (15 dB). The absorbance sensitivities obtained (-0.86 AU/decade) were, as expected, higher than those shown by the conventional device (-0.03 AU/decade), with comparable response times (t90% = 0.5 min).
|Publication status||Published - 15 Nov 1999|