Abstract

We propose and theoretically examine a novel mid-infrared (mid-IR) photothermal spectroscopic sensing technique capable of detecting a single small molecule. Our conceptual design attains such high sensitivity by leveraging dramatically amplified photothermal effects in an optical nanocavity doubly resonant at both mid-IR pump and near-IR probe wavelengths. Unlike conventional mid-IR spectroscopy, the technique eliminates the need for cryogenically cooled mid-IR photodetectors, as optical detection is performed solely at the near-IR probe wavelength. A device design based on nested one-dimensional nanobeam photonic crystal cavities is numerically analyzed to demonstrate the technique’s potential for single small gas molecule detection.

© 2012 Optical Society of America

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