A sensor is described for which interference measurements of the phase delay between two propagating modes of different orders in a slab thin-film waveguide are used as the sensing technique. The basic building block of the sensor is a polymer film doped with an indicator dye such as Bromocresol Purple. The modes of two orders such as TM(0) and TM(1) are simultaneously excited in the light-guiding film with a focusing optics and a prism coupler. The modes are decoupled from the film and recombined to produce an interference pattern in the face of an output optical fiber. The sensitivity of the sensor to the ambient temperature change is 1.5 degrees C, and the sensitivity to NH(3) is 200 parts in 10(6) for one full oscillation of the signal.