Biosensing with free space whispering gallery mode microlasers

Highly accurate biosensors for few or single molecule detection play a central role in numerous key fields, such as healthcare and environmental monitoring. In the last decade, laser biosensors have been investigated as proofs of concept, and several technologies have been proposed. We here propose a demonstration of polymeric whispering gallery microlasers as biosensors for detecting small amounts of proteins down to 400 pg. They have the advantage of working in free space without any need for waveguiding for input excitation or output signal detection. The photonic microsensors can be easily patterned on microscope slides and operate in air and solution. We estimate the limit of detection up to 148 nm/RIU for three different protein dispersions. In addition, the sensing ability of passive spherical resonators in the presence of dielectric nanoparticles that mimic proteins is described by massive ab initio numerical simulations.