Beyond Q: The Importance of the Resonance Amplitude for Photonic Sensors

Donato Conteduca*, Guilherme S. Arruda, Isabel Barth, Yue Wang, Thomas F. Krauss, Emiliano R. Martins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Resonant photonic sensors are enjoying much attention based on the worldwide drive toward personalized healthcare diagnostics and the need to better monitor the environment. Recent developments exploiting novel concepts such as metasurfaces, bound states in the continuum, and topological sensing have added to the interest in this topic. The drive toward increasingly higher quality (Q)-factors, combined with the requirement for low costs, makes it critical to understand the impact of realistic limitations such as losses on photonic sensors. Traditionally, it is assumed that the reduction in the Q-factor sufficiently accounts for the presence of loss. Here, we highlight that this assumption is overly simplistic, and we show that losses have a stronger impact on the resonance amplitude than on the Q-factor. We note that the effect of the resonance amplitude has been largely ignored in the literature, and there is no physical model clearly describing the relationship between the limit of detection (LOD), Q-factor, and resonance amplitude. We have, therefore, developed a novel, ab initio analytical model, where we derive the complete figure of merit for resonant photonic sensors and determine their LOD. In addition to highlighting the importance of the optical losses and the resonance amplitude, we show that, counter-intuitively, optimization of the LOD is not achieved by maximization of the Q-factor but by counterbalancing the Q-factor and amplitude. We validate the model experimentally, put it into context, and show that it is essential for applying novel sensing concepts in realistic scenarios.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1757-1763
Number of pages7
JournalACS Photonics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors D.C. and T.F.K. acknowledge financial support by the EPSRC of the UK (Grant EP/P030017/1). I.B. acknowledges financial support by Wellcome Trust (Grant 221349/Z/20/Z). Y.W. acknowledges her Research Fellowship awarded by the Royal Academy of Engineering. E.R.M. and G.S.A. acknowledge the funding from São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) (grant #2020/00619-4, #2020/15940-2). E.R.M. acknowledges financial support by CNPQ 307602/2021-4.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Chemical Society. All rights reserved.


  • dielectric resonator
  • figure of merit
  • limit of detection
  • metasurface
  • photonic sensors
  • resonance amplitude

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