We report on the conformal surface passivation of photonic crystal (PC) laser devices with an ultrathin dielectric layer. Air-bridge-type Γ-point band-edge lasers (BELs) are fabricated by forming a honeycomb lattice two-dimensional PC structure into an InGaAsP multiple-quantum-well epilayer. Atomic layer deposition (ALD) is employed for conformal deposition of a few-nanometer-thick SiO2 layer over the entire device surface, not only on the top and bottom surfaces of the air-bridge membrane but also on the air-hole sidewalls. Despite its extreme thinness, the ALD passivation layer is found to protect the InGaAsP BEL devices from harsh chemicals. In addition, the ALD-SiO2 is compatible with the silane-based surface chemistry, which allows us to use ALD-passivated BEL devices as label-free biosensors. The standard streptavidin-biotin interaction shifts the BEL lasing wavelength by ∼1 nm for the dipole-like Γ-point band-edge mode. A sharp lasing line (<0.2 nm, full width at half-maximum) and a large refractive index sensitivity (∼163 nm per RIU) produce a figure of merit as high as ∼800 for our BEL biosensor, which is at least an order of magnitude higher than those of more common biosensors that rely on a broad resonance peak, showing that our nanolaser structures are suitable for highly sensitive biosensor applications. This journal is
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