Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence

Publication Details

Scientific Reports 8, Article number: 1620.

Received: 13 November 2017. Accepted: 11 January 2018. Published online: 26 January 2018.


A silica gel coated microsphere resonator is proposed and experimentally demonstrated for measurements of ammonia (NH3) concentration in air with ultra-high sensitivity. The optical properties of the porous silica gel layer change when it is exposed to low (parts per million (ppm)) and even ultra-low (parts per billion (ppb)) concentrations of ammonia vapor, leading to a spectral shift of the WGM resonances in the transmission spectrum of the fiber taper. The experimentally demonstrated sensitivity of the proposed sensor to ammonia is estimated as 34.46 pm/ppm in the low ammonia concentrations range from 4 ppm to 30 ppm using an optical spectrum analyser (OSA), and as 800 pm/ppm in the ultra-low range of ammonia concentrations from 2.5 ppb to 12 ppb using the frequency detuning method, resulting in the lowest detection limit (by two orders of magnitude) reported to date equal to 0.16 ppb of ammonia in air. In addition, the sensor exhibits excellent selectivity to ammonia and very fast response and recovery times measured at 1.5 and 3.6 seconds, respectively. Other attractive features of the proposed sensor are its compact nature, simplicity of fabrication.