High sensitivity liquid level sensor for microfluidic applications using a hollow core fiber structure

Dejun Liu, Wei Li, Qiang Wu, Haoyu Zhao, Fengzi Ling, Ke Tian, Changyu Shen, Wei Han, Fangfang Wei, Gerald Farrell, Yuliya Semenova, Pengfei Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Liquid level measurement in microfluidics is challenging, where a sensor with ultra-high sensitivity but miniature in nature is demanded. In this paper, we propose for the first time a microsized fiber sensor structure in both diameter and length for microfluidics applications, which is capable of sub-micrometer scale liquid level measurement. The sensor is simply fabricated by fusion splicing a short section of a hollow core fiber (HCF) between two singlemode fibers (SMFs). HCFs with different air core diameters (10 μm, 20 μm, 30 μm) were investigated and it is found that for a given length of HCF stronger resonant dips were excited in transmission for the HCF with a smaller air core diameter. Thus the HCF structure with an air core diameter of 10 μm (HCF-10) was used for demonstration of high sensitivity liquid level measurement in microfluidics. Simultaneous excitation of both Anti-Resonant Reflecting Optical Waveguide (ARROW) guiding mechanism and Mach-Zehnder interferometer (MZI) in transmission is demonstrated in such an HCF-10 structure when HCF-10 is longer than the critical length. A maximum sensitivity of 0.042dB/µm (corresponding to a calculated liquid level resolution of ~0.23 μm) was experimentally achieved with an HCF-10 length of ~867 μm, which is three times higher than that of the previous reported to date of the most sensitive fiber optic liquid level sensors based on intensity modulation. In addition, the proposed sensor shows good repeatability of measurement and a very low cross sensitivity to changes in the surrounding refractive index.
Original languageEnglish
Article number113134
Number of pages7
JournalSensors and Actuators A: Physical
Volume332
Early online date23 Sep 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Sep 2021

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