Abstract

In an effort to improve and simplify refractive index sensors, we identified a basic operation mode at the critical angle. Sensitivity to the refractive index is higher than in standard surface plasmon resonance sensors, and we have been able to demonstrate analytically that it is virtually an unbounded value. We describe this approach and submit a complete analytical study demonstrating its unlimited sensing power. To test the approach, we constructed an economical and basic sensor. Despite its simplicity, we demonstrated the discrimination capability to be of the order of 106, as far as we know close to the best sensitivity ever recorded. This detection method is generally applicable to any optical system and may pave the way for the next generation of optical sensing devices.

© 2006 Optical Society of America

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