Download the full-sized PDF of Development of Silicon-Based Optofluidic Sensors for Oil Sands Environmental MonitoringDownload the full-sized PDF



Permanent link (DOI):


Export to: EndNote  |  Zotero  |  Mendeley


This file is in the following communities:

Oil Sands Research and Information Network (OSRIN)


This file is in the following collections:

OSRIN Technical Reports

Development of Silicon-Based Optofluidic Sensors for Oil Sands Environmental Monitoring Open Access


Author or creator
DeCorby, R.G.
Additional contributors
Oil Sands
Tar Sands
Naphthenic Acid
Process Affected Water (OSPW)
Type of item
Canada, Alberta, Fort McMurray
The oil sands industry in Alberta produces large volumes of process-affected water (PAW), which is known to contain heavy metals and organic compounds (such as naphthenic acids, naphthalene, phenanthrene, pyrene, etc.) that are toxic and hazardous to the environment. The industry has an ongoing need to improve the monitoring of concentrations and breakdown of these compounds. Currently, this is mainly accomplished by collecting samples for shipment to a laboratory for analysis. Portable and ideally distributed and real-time monitoring techniques would greatly improve efficiency and the base of knowledge with respect to these environmental concerns. The principal aim of the project was to develop a prototype lab-on-a-chip (LOC) based sensor for optical detection of target molecules in PAW using spectrally resolved fluorescence detection. The proposed sensor would offer a high level of integration between the fluidic and optical components, potentially reducing the cost and complexity of the overall system while also improving the performance (sensitivity, signal to noise ratio (SNR), alignment tolerance, etc.). In the long term, such miniaturized sensors hold promise as low-cost, highly distributed environmental monitoring devices. Most of the primary milestones of the project were successfully completed, as follows: 1. A silicon-based air-core waveguide technology was developed and optimized for the ultraviolet-visible wavelength band of interest. These waveguides employ low-loss TiO2/SiO2 Bragg reflectors deposited by sputtering deposition at the U of A nanoFab. 2. Tapered air-core waveguides were assembled and tested as visible-band micro-spectrometers. These micro-spectrometers provide resolution on the order of 1 nm over a 100 nm operational band (e.g., wavelengths in the 500 to 600 nm range), and offer compelling advantages for lab-on-a-chip and optofluidic microsystems. 3. Prototype sensing systems were developed, by combining the aforementioned micro-spectrometers with PDMS-based microfluidics. Fluorescence spectroscopy was successfully demonstrated for commercial dyes with fluorescence bands in the ~500 to 600 nm wavelength range. At the time of writing, ongoing work is aimed at translating the operational band of these sensors to the ~400 to 500 nm wavelength range. This effort has been delayed by processing difficulties, but is expected to reach a successful conclusion in summer 2013. Further work is aimed at extending the operational range of the micro-spectrometers (e.g., 400 to 650 nm), by using more sophisticated multilayer designs. We hope that this work will enable the detection of native fluorescence from hydrocarbon molecules, including the multiplexed detection of multiple species, and intend to pursue this objective in the coming months.
Date created
License information
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported

Citation for previous publication

Link to related item

File Details

Date Uploaded
Date Modified
Audit Status
Audits have not yet been run on this file.
File format: pdf (Portable Document Format)
Mime type: application/pdf
File size: 664876
Last modified: 2015:10:12 19:12:41-06:00
Filename: TR-41 - DeCorby Silicon Sensors Report.pdf
Original checksum: 4897886f39a2db9607301cfa50c25c09
Well formed: true
Valid: true
File author: Chris Powter
Page count: 25
File language: en-CA
Activity of users you follow
User Activity Date