Saturday, 1 July 2017

Sensor Solution: Sensor Boutique for Early Adopters

Sensor Boutique
It is known that a very individual fraction of infrared light is absorbed by every chemical substance. This absorption can be used for recognising substances with the help of optical methods, which is almost like the concept of a human fingerprint.

To elaborate this concept, when the infrared radiation, that falls within a certain range of wavelength, are absorbed by molecules, they are animated to a higher level of vibration, in which they rotate and vibrate in a typical and distinctive pattern or rather in a “fingerprint” pattern. These patterns can be used for identifying specific chemical species. Such kind of a method is used, let’s say, for example, in the chemical industry but also has its uses in the health sector or in criminal investigation. A company often needs an individually tailored sensor solution if it plans a new project.

EU-funded pilot line called MIRPHAB (Mid InfraRedPhotonics devices fABrication for chemical sensing and spectroscopic applications) support companies that in search for a suitable system and help in the development of sensor technology and measurement technology in mid-infrared (MIR). Participating in this project is the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF.

Pilot line for ideal spectroscopy solutions

A company has very individual needs if it is looking for a sensor solution, for example, if it has to identify a particular substance in a production process. This begins with the substances that have to be recorded to the number of sensors required up to the speed of the process of production.Considering most of the cases, a custom-made solution that suits all does not suffice and various suppliers are required for the purpose of developing the optimal individual solution.Here is where MIRPHAB comes into picture and proves to be very useful.

Leading European research institutes and companies belonging to the MIR environment have collaborated to provide customers with a custom-made and best suited offers made from a single source. Parties that are interested can get in touch with a central contact person, who can then make a compilation of the best solutions possible from the MIRPHAB members component portfolio as per the modular principle.

EU funding has supported MIRPHAB in the development of the individual MIR sensor solution within the framework, in order to fortify the European industry in the long run and increase in its leading position in chemical analysis and sensor technology. This considerably lessens the investment costs and as a result also reduces the entry point for companies in the MIR area.

Companies that have previously faced high costs and development efforts are now looking at a high-quality MIR sensor solution as an object of interest due to its combination with the virtual infrastructure which is a development caused by MIRPHAB.Also, MIRPHAB provides companies access to the latest and modern technologies, enabling them with an added advantage as an early adopter compared to the competition.

Custom-madesource forMIR lasers

The Freiburg-basedFraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF along with the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems IPMS situated in Dresden, is providing a central component of the MIRPHAB sensor solution. The Fraunhofer IAF is presenting the new technology of quantum cascade lasers that emanate laser light in the range of MIR. In this type of laser, the range of the wavelength of the emitted light is spectrally extensive and can be adapted as per requirement during manufacturing. To select a particular wavelength within the broad spectral range, an optical diffraction grating has to be used to choose and then coupled back into the laser chip. The wavelength can be adjusted constantly by turning the grating. This grating is created at the Fraunhofer IPMS in a scaled-down form in so-called Micro-Electro-Mechanical-System or MEMS technology.Thus it is then possible to oscillate the grating up to one kilohertz of frequency. This further enables the tuning of the laser source’s wavelength up to a thousand times per second over a large range of spectrum.
The Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT in Aachen also has involvement in MIRPHAB in order to make the manufacturing of lasers and ratings more proficient and to enhance them for pilot series fabrication.With the help of its proficiency, it changes the production of the quickly adaptable MIR laser into industrially applicable manufacturing processes.

Process exploration in actuality

Currently, there are many applications in the field of spectroscopy that are still in the category of visible or near the range of infrared and use comparatively feeble light sources. MIRPHAB provides solutions has the concept of infrared semiconductor lasers as a foundation. These have comparatively higher intensity of light thus allowing the scope for completely new applications. This results in a recording of up to 1,000 spectra per second with the help of the MIR laser source which, as an example, provides for the real time programmed monitoring and control of biotechnological processes and chemical reactions. Thus, MIRPHAB’s contribution is considered to be important and vital to the factory of the future.

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