Photonic crystal surfaces that are designed to function as wavelength-selective optical resonators have become a widely adopted platform for label-free biosensing, and for enhancement of the output of photon emitting tags used throughout life science research and in vitro diagnostics. While some applications, such as analysis of drug-protein interactions, require extremely high resolution and the ability to accurately correct for measurement artifacts, others require sensitivity that is high enough for detection of disease biomarkers in serum with concentrations ∼ 1 pg/ml. As the analysis of cells becomes increasingly important for studying the behavior of stem cells, cancer cells, and biofilms under a variety of conditions, approaches that enable high-resolution imaging of live cells without cytotoxic stains or photobleachable fluorescent dyes are providing new tools to biologists who seek to observe individual cells over extended time periods. This paper will review several recent advances in photonic crystal biosensor detection instrumentation and device structures that are being applied toward direct detection of small molecules in the context of high-throughput drug screening, photonic crystal fluorescence enhancement as utilized for high sensitivity multiplexed cancer biomarker detection, and label-free high-resolution imaging of cells and individual nanoparticles as a new tool for life science research and single-molecule diagnostics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7101794
Pages (from-to)3349-3366
Number of pages18
JournalIEEE Sensors Journal
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 2016


  • Biosensing
  • bioimaging
  • cavity-coupled PCEF
  • external cavity laser biosensor
  • label-free biosensing and bioimaging
  • live cell label-free detection
  • photonic crystal biosensor
  • photonic crystal enhanced fluorescence (PCEF)
  • photonic crystal enhanced microscopy (PCEM)
  • protein or DNA interaction detection
  • small molecule label-free detection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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