We demonstrate lensfree on-chip sensing within a microfluidic channel using plasmonic nanoapertures that are illuminated by a partially coherent quasimonochromatic source. In this approach, lensfree diffraction patterns of metallic nanoapertures located at the bottom of a microfluidic channel are recorded using an optoelectronic sensor-array. These lensfree diffraction patterns can then be rapidly processed, using phase recovery techniques, to back propagate the optical fields to an arbitrary depth, creating digitally focused complex transmission patterns. Cross correlation of these patterns enables lensfree on-chip sensing of the local refractive index surrounding the near-field of the plasmonic nanoapertures. Based on this principle, we experimentally demonstrate lensfree sensing of refractive index changes as small as ∼2×10(-3). This on-chip sensing approach could be quite useful for development of label-free microarray technologies by multiplexing thousands of plasmonic structures on the same microfluidic chip, which can significantly increase the throughput of sensing.
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