Imaging-based molecular barcoding with pixelated dielectric metasurfaces

UltraChiral EPFL partners (H. Altug group) demonstrate imaging-based molecular barcoding, A. Tittl et al. in Science magazine [Science 360 6393 1105 (2018)]

Metasurfaces provide opportunities for wavefront control, flat optics, and subwavelength light focusing. We developed an imaging-based nanophotonic method for detecting mid-infrared molecular fingerprints and implemented it for the chemical identification and compositional analysis of surface-bound analytes. Our technique features a two-dimensional pixelated dielectric metasurface with a range of ultrasharp resonances, each tuned to a discrete frequency; this enables molecular absorption signatures to be read out at multiple spectral points, and the resulting information is then translated into a barcode-like spatial absorption map for imaging. The signatures of biological, polymer, and pesticide molecules can be detected with high sensitivity, covering applications such as biosensing and environmental monitoring. Our chemically specific technique can resolve absorption fingerprints without the need for spectrometry, frequency scanning, or moving mechanical parts, thereby paving the way toward sensitive and versatile miniaturized mid-infrared spectroscopy devices.