A systematic study of Bloch surface wave (BSW) properties and applications in diffraction-based biosensors is presented. The design of such devices starts with the calculation of the BSW dispersion relation for a semi-infinite one-dimensional photonic crystal. We propose an approach in which polarization and 1DPC termination effects are simply described. Since in a realistic device the number of periods is limited, we investigate the issues arising from finite size effects and the choice of a structure substrate. Diffraction efficiency is studied as a function index contrast, multilayer termination, grating thickness, and number of periods. Numerical examples for and periodic dielectric stacks are presented, showing that BSW can be exploited for the realization of efficient diffraction-based biosensors from the infrared to the visible range.
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