Abstract

Glass capillaries with a chemically sensitive coating on the inner surface are used as optical sensors for medical diagnostics. A capillary simultaneously serves as a sample compartment, a sensor element, and an inhomogeneous optical waveguide. Various detection schemes based on absorption, fluorescence intensity, or fluorescence lifetime are described. In absorption-based capillary waveguide optrodes the absorption in the sensor layer is analyte dependent; hence light transmission along the inhomogeneous waveguiding structure formed by the capillary wall and the sensing layer is a function of the analyte concentration. Similarly, in fluorescence-based capillary optrodes the fluorescence intensity or the fluorescence lifetime of an indicator dye fixed in the sensing layer is analyte dependent; thus the specific property of fluorescent light excited in the sensing layer and thereafter guided along the inhomogeneous waveguiding structure is a function of the analyte concentration. Both schemes are experimentally demonstrated, one with carbon dioxide as the analyte and the other one with oxygen. The device combines optical sensors with the standard glass capillaries usually applied to gather blood drops from fingertips, to yield a versatile diagnostic instrument, integrating the sample compartment, the optical sensor, and the light-collecting optics into a single piece. This ensures enhanced sensor performance as well as improved handling compared with other sensors.

© 1996 Optical Society of America

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