Author's School

School of Engineering & Applied Science

Author's Department/Program

Electrical and Systems Engineering


English (en)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Lan Yang


Whispering gallery mode: WGM) microresonators have attracted great interests due to the significantly enhanced light-matter interactions originating from their high quality factors and small mode volumes. They are suitable for a wide range of applications including sensing, lasing, nonlinear optics, and so forth. However, temperature fluctuations as one of the most common environmental noises disturb the cavity resonances and thus degrade the device stability and sensitivity. We introduce a wetting technique to coat the silica resonator with a thin layer of polymer which has the negative thermo-optic coefficient to compensate for the thermal effect in silica, and demonstrate complete thermal compensation. WGM microresonators have shown great promise for ultra-sensitive and label-free chemical and biological sensing by probing the surroundings with evanescent waves leaking out of the resonator. Sensing is achieved by monitoring the shift or splitting of a resonant frequency. The detection limit is determined by the linewidth of the resonant mode which is ultimately limited by material absorption induced loss. To surpass the limit of passive resonators, we report real-time single nanoparticle detection using on-chip WGM microcavity lasers. The ultra-low threshold microlasers are prepared by doping WGM resonators with rare-earth ions through the sol-gel method, and their linewidths are much narrower than the passive counterparts. The detection approach relies on measuring changes in the heterodyne beat note of two split modes originating from splitting of a narrow emission line in the microlaser induced by nanoscale objects. We demonstrate detection of polystyrene and gold nanoparticles as small as 15 nm and 10 nm in radius, respectively, and Influenza A virions by monitoring changes in the beat note of the split lasing modes. The self-heterodyne interferometric method achieved in the on-chip microlaser provides a self-referencing scheme with extraordinary sensitivity, and paves the way for detection and spectroscopy of nano-scale objects using micro/nano lasers.


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