Physics Seminar Series

Exploiting Light-Matter Interaction in Silicon Photonics for Biosensing

presented by Dr. Sharon M. Weiss, Vanderbilt University

Wednesday, Mar. 8, 7:30 - 8:30pm, Woods Labs 216

Silicon has traditionally been associated with being the most favorable material platform for most modern microelectronics technologies due to its electronic properties, compatibility with lithographic patterning, and earth abundance. However, silicon is also a favorable material platform for supporting light propagation. This talk will focus on design approaches for enhancing light-matter interaction on a silicon platform for the application of molecular detection of chemicals and biomolecules. Silicon-based optical biosensors hold great promise as low-cost lab-on-chip sensor array elements due to their compatibility with both standard microelectronics processing and standard surface functionalization techniques. The sensitivity of these optical biosensors is fundamentally derived from the level of interaction between light and the target molecules to be detected. Specific approaches to increasing light-matter interaction of silicon photonic biosensors will be presented. In particular, several experimentally realized biosensor designs on silicon-on-insulator and porous silicon substrates, including photonic crystals, ring resonators, and Bloch surface-wave structures will be described, along with illustrative examples of specific molecular detection of proteins, DNA, and other small molecules using these silicon photonic components.  

Sharon M. Weiss is a Cornelius Vanderbilt Chaired Professor of Electrical Engineering and Physics at Vanderbilt University and Deputy Director of the Vanderbilt Institute of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (VINSE). Prof. Weiss received a Ph.D. degree from the Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester. Her research group ( primarily focuses on silicon photonics – including porous silicon – for optical biosensing and communication, as well as hybrid and nanocomposite materials systems. Prof. Weiss has been awarded a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), an NSF CAREER award, an ARO Young Investigator Award, and an IEEE Photonics Society Distinguished Lecturer award. She was also named an inaugural Chancellor’s Faculty Fellow at Vanderbilt. Prof. Weiss has published more than 100 journal and conference papers and has been awarded four patents. She is an active participant in the organization of multiple IEEE, SPIE, and OSA conferences, and regularly engages in science outreach activities in the community.

For more information: Prof. Eugene Donev (931) 598-3154 |