Sensor boutique for early adopters

Demonstrator of the miniaturized laser source consisting of a quantum cascade laser chip as well as a MOEMS grating scanner. Credit: Photo Fraunhofer IAF

Every chemical substance absorbs a very individual fraction of infrared light. Like a human fingerprint, This kind of absorption can be used with optical methods for identifying substances. Such methods are used inside chemical industry, for example, yet also inside health sector or in criminal investigation. If a company plans a brand-new project, the idea often needs individually tailored sensor solutions. inside search for a suitable system, they are currently supported by the EU-funded pilot line MIRPHAB (Mid InfraRed PHotonics devices fABrication for chemical sensing as well as spectroscopic applications) for the development of sensor technology as well as measurement technology in mid-infrared (MIR). The Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF will be participating in This kind of project. MIRPHAB will be producing an important contribution to the factory of the future as well as Industry 4.0.

Pilot line for tailor-made spectroscopy solutions

If a company will be looking for a sensor solution, such as to identify a certain substance inside production process, the idea often has very individual requirements. This kind of starts with the substances to be accounted for to the number of required sensors up to the speed of the production process. In most cases, a “one-size-fits-all” solution will be not sufficient, as well as several suppliers are needed in order to develop the optimal individual solution. This kind of will be where MIRPHAB comes in: inside pilot line, leading European research institutes as well as companies via the MIR environment have joined forces to provide customers with tailor-made offers via one particular source. Interested parties can address a central contact person, who then compiles the best possible solution via the component portfolio of the MIRPHAB members according to the modular principle.

In order to strengthen the European industry inside long term as well as expand its leading position in chemical analysis as well as sensor technology, the development of the individual MIR sensor solutions within the framework of MIRPHAB will be supported by EU funding. This kind of significantly reduces the investment costs as well as, thereby, the entry threshold for  companies inside MIR area. In combination with the virtual infrastructure which has been developed inside course of MIRPHAB, high-quality MIR sensor solutions are therefore also of interest to companies for whom the costs as well as development efforts have previously been seen as being too high. In addition, MIRPHAB gives companies access  to the latest technologies, enabling them to gain an edge over the competition as an early adopter.

Customized MIR laser source

A central component of the MIRPHAB sensor solutions will be being provided by the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF in Freiburg in cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems IPMS in Dresden. The Fraunhofer IAF will be introducing the technology of quantum cascade lasers, which emit laser light inside MIR range. In This kind of type of laser, the wavelength range in which the light will be emitted will be spectrally very broad as well as can be customized during manufacturing. In order to select a specific wavelength within the wide spectral range, the idea has to be chosen via an optical diffraction grating as well as coupled back into the laser chip. By rotating the grating, the wavelength can be tuned continuously. The grating will be produced at the Fraunhofer IPMS in miniaturized form in so-called Micro-Electro-Mechanical-System (MEMS) technology. This kind of makes the idea possible to oscillate the grating at a frequency of up to one kilohertz as well as to thereby tune the wavelength of the laser source up to a thousand times per second over a very wide spectral range.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT in Aachen will be also involved in MIRPHAB in order to make the production of lasers as well as gratings more efficient as well as to optimize them for pilot series production. With its expertise, the idea transforms the production of the rapidly-tunable MIR laser into industrially applicable production processes.

Process analysis in real time

At present, numerous applications inside field of spectroscopy are still inside visible or near infrared range as well as use relatively weak light sources. MIRPHAB offers solutions based on infrared semiconductor lasers. These have a significantly higher light intensity, thereby enabling completely brand-new applications. As a result, up to 1,000 spectra per second can be recorded with the MIR laser source, which, for example, enables the automated monitoring as well as control of chemical reactions as well as biotechnological processes in real time. MIRPHAB will be therefore producing an important contribution to the factory of the future as well as Industrie 4.0.

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Provided by:
Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF

Sensor boutique for early adopters

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