We investigate, by simulations and experiments, the light scattering of small particles trapped in photonic crystal membranes supporting guided resonance modes. Our results show that, due to amplified Rayleigh small particle scattering, such membranes can be utilized to make a sensor that can detect single nano-particles. We have designed a biomolecule sensor that uses cross-polarized excitation and detection for increased sensitivity. Estimated using Rayleigh scattering theory and simulation results, the current fabricated sensor has a detection limit of 26 nm, corresponding to the size of a single virus. The sensor can potentially be made both cheap and compact, to facilitate use at point-of-care.