FiberLab – Lab in a Fiber

Co-funded by Photonik Inkubator GmbH

Duration: November 2014 – October 2016

Fiber optical sensors have been applied for the measurement of temperature and strain for many years. The Department in Goslar of the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute has developed a way to gather this information by means of femtosecond laser processing technology in standard single mode glass fibers. While the femtosecond laser based production of common so called Fiber Bragg Gratings (FBG) offers, compared to other known processes, already many advantages, the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute focuses on complete new fiber optical solutions for various sensory tasks. During the last years sensors for pressure, electrical current and voltage, and even (ultra-sonic) sound detection have been presented. Furthermore, FBGs can be functionalized to detect even small changes in refractive indexes which allow determining the chemical composition of surrounding liquids or gases.

All known and new sensor applications can be realized together in commercially available and therefore low-cost standard single mode fibers with no or a minimum of pre- or post-procession. This leads to an extremely flexible and powerful fiber optical technology platform, a complete Lab in a Fiber.

The integration of all sensor types into just a one single mode fiber (typically < 150 µm in diameter) predestines the fiber for applications on extremely small scales like the navigation of brain catheters. But the possible applications range from the as aforementioned commercially particularly interesting field of medical technology to power engineering, with applications in battery safety or real-time monitoring of oil and gas industry, to industrial applications such as the accurate control of robotic components.