Photonic crystals: emerging biosensors and their promise for point-of-care applications
Biosensors are extensively employed for diagnosing a broad array of diseases and disorders in clinical settings worldwide. The implementation of biosensors at the point-of-care (POC), such as at primary clinics or the bedside, faces impediments because they may require highly trained personnel, have long assay times, large sizes, and high instrumental cost. Thus, there exists a need to develop inexpensive, reliable, user-friendly, and compact biosensing systems at the POC. Biosensors incorporated with photonic crystal (PC) structures hold promise to address many of the aforementioned challenges facing the development of new POC diagnostics. Currently, PC-based biosensors have been employed for detecting a variety of biotargets, such as cells, pathogens, proteins, antibodies, and nucleic acids, with high efficiency and selectivity. In this review, we provide a broad overview of PCs by explaining their structures, fabrication techniques, and sensing principles. Furthermore, we discuss recent applications of PC-based biosensors incorporated with emerging technologies, including telemedicine, flexible and wearable sensing, smart materials and metamaterials. Finally, we discuss current challenges associated with existing biosensors, and provide an outlook for PC-based biosensors and their promise at the POC.