Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Paving The Way Towards Optical Sensing Foils

Date:
October 13, 2008
Source:
Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (IMEC)
Summary:
Scientists have made the first functional optical links embedded in a flexible substrate. The links include optical waveguides, light sources, and detectors. With this technique, it becomes possible to make foils that sense changes in pressure. Such sensing, skin-like foils could be used for monitoring irregular or moving surfaces, e.g. in robots, pliable machinery, or as an artificial skin.

IMEC’s associated laboratory at the Ghent University, INTEC, has made the first functional optical links embedded in a flexible substrate. The links include optical waveguides, light sources, and detectors. With this technique, it becomes possible to make foils that sense changes in pressure. Such sensing, skin-like foils could be used for monitoring irregular or moving surfaces, e.g. in robots, pliable machinery, or as an artificial skin.

Integrated optical interconnections have the advantage that they are insensitive to electromagnetic interference, applicable in harsh environments, and highly sensitive. Last year, IMEC already reported embedded optical links on rigid surfaces. The current research takes optoelectronics one step further. Standard commercially available GaAs photodetectors and GaAs VCSELs (vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser) are thinned down to 30m. Next, they are embedded into a flexible foil of optical transparent material and optically coupled with embedded waveguides and out-of-plane micromirrors. The resulting structure shows good adhesion and flexible behavior.

With this technology, IMEC is working on two types of sensors: array waveguide sensors and optical fiber sensors. Both can be used for sensor foils. Array waveguide sensors rely on the change in coupling between arrays of crossing waveguides. Two layers of polymer waveguides are separated by a thin layer of soft silicone. When no pressure is applied, no crosstalk is detected. But when pressure is applied to the foil, the distance between the waveguides in the separated layers decreases, and light is transmitted from one layer to the other. This low-cost sensor is ideally suited for high-density pressure sensors on small areas.

Optical sensing foils combine two technologies that have lately seen a growing interest: integrated optical interconnections, and flexible, stretchable electronics. The ambition of researchers is to create a flexible and stretchable skin-like foil sensitive to touch, pressure, or deformation. Such artificial skin could be used in medical and industrial environments. To this aim, a group of European research institutes, including IMEC, are collaborating in the 7th Framework project PHOSFOS (Photonic Skins For Optical Sensing).

PHOSFOS will develop photonic foils based on optical fiber sensors. These foils are targeted at applications in civil engineering and medicine. They will, for example, continuously monitor the integrity and the behavior of buildings, dams, bridges, roads, or tunnels. Other uses are monitoring aircraft wings, helicopter blades, or windmill blades. They will enable early warning of failure or anomaly. Skin-like PHOSFOS membranes will also be used in long-term monitoring of respiration and cardiac activity, as well as the detection of pressure points under bed-ridden patients.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (IMEC). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (IMEC). "Paving The Way Towards Optical Sensing Foils." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 October 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081007132507.htm>.
Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (IMEC). (2008, October 13). Paving The Way Towards Optical Sensing Foils. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081007132507.htm
Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (IMEC). "Paving The Way Towards Optical Sensing Foils." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081007132507.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) As more and more Bluetooth-enabled devices are reaching consumers, developers are busy connecting them together as part of the Internet of Things. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thanks, Marty McFly! Hoverboards Could Be Coming In 2015

Thanks, Marty McFly! Hoverboards Could Be Coming In 2015

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) If you've ever watched "Back to the Future Part II" and wanted to get your hands on a hoverboard, well, you might soon be in luck. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) Researchers in South Korea are developing a robotic pilot that could potentially replace humans in the cockpit. Unlike drones and autopilot programs which are configured for specific aircraft, the robots' humanoid design will allow it to fly any type of plane with no additional sensors. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Graphene Paint Offers Rust-Free Future

Graphene Paint Offers Rust-Free Future

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) British scientists have developed a prototype graphene paint that can make coatings which are resistant to liquids, gases, and chemicals. The team says the paint could have a variety of uses, from stopping ships rusting to keeping food fresher for longer. Jim Drury reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins