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Opt Lett. 2005 Dec 1;30(23):3189-91.

Subfemtomole detection of small molecules with microsphere sensors.

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  • 1Department of Biological Engineering, University of Missouri-Columbia, Missouri 65211, USA.


We investigated the feasibility of using a silica microsphere sensor for detection of small molecules. Using the silica molecules (60 Da) at the sphere's surface as a model system, we measured the spectral shifts in the whispering-gallery modes (WGMs) when the sphere size was decreased by a hydrofluoric acid (HF) solution. The results demonstrate that our sensor is capable of detecting a 4 pm (or 0.01 layer of silica) decrease in sphere radius, corresponding to a change of 0.4 fmol silica molecule. These results suggest that small molecules can be detected in trace quantities at the surface of an optical microsphere sensor.

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