The use of Photonics components has a broad use in a variety of applications. Read more about how Detectors and Sensors are applied in common use applicatons.
The unique functionality of IR-Detectors are highly appreciated mainly on the volatile substance analyzers market. The detectors are used for monitoring process gases in chemical, refining, power generation, food and aerosol production industries. Photodiodes and photoresistors operate as a part of ultra-sensitive optoelectronic analytical devices in which the source of radiation are medium- and long-wave quantum cascade lasers (QCLs). Detectors are used as electronic “noses” – they can measure very small concentrations (ppb and ppt) of chemical substances in a mixture. Apart from process gases analysis, such systems are excellent for analyzing undesired vapors, such as pollutants and hazardous or flammable compounds, and for quality control – finding escapes and leakages. An invaluable advantage of optical detection modules is their insensitivity to electromagnetic interference. Such devices can be left in hazardous areas, and measurements can be taken from a safe place.
Laser power control and calibration
Powerful laser sources, mainly high-power CO2 and solid-state lasers, have for many years been used on quick and precise hard material treatment, large format cutting, engraving, cleaning and welding markets. Such sources operate within the mid infrared range, as high absorptivity of that type of radiation enables contact-free modification of materials by means of heating. A natural consequence of that situation is a demand for sensors operating within the same range of spectrum as lasers do, and enabling control of beam power and position. We offer a wide range of durable IR detectors optimized for wavelengths between 2 to 16 µm. Fabrficated structures are characterized by small heat capacity and insignificant impact of thermal signal on optical signal. Depending on the customer’s requirements, various active area sizes are available. There is also the possibility for multi-component linear or quadrant detectors, ideal for radiation source positioning.
Air quality analysis
Strict greenhouse gases emission standards translate into a dynamic increase in the number of devices for analyzing dusts and smog. With an IR-Detector you achieve attainable sensitivity and speed of operation for systems used for thermal or laser sources. Additional advantages include no need for the presence of reference gases during measurement, which is indispensable in the case of catalytic sensors, or service life longer than that of electrochemical meters. Year after year, a team of highly-qualified engineers from VIGO System have been delivering detectors of increasingly good quality, positively verified by demanding customers on the environmental protection market. Detectors for air quart analysis can be found at research centers monitoring the composition of atmosphere, on factory and power plant chimneys, or in unmanned weather balloons.
Real-time water quality control
Access to clean, drinking water still remains a luxury for many inhabitants of Earth. Even in areas where plenty of H2O is available, there is a problem with analyzing the substance before it is consumed. Additionally, the threat of deliberate contamination of reservoirs is growing, which in combination with slow operation of the conventional instruments for liquid analysis may result in a failure to detect danger quick enough. Our supplier VIGO System co-runs the WaterSpy project, co-run by VIGO System. This project gathers 9 entities from Europe, with the mission to develop a technology for photonic analysis of liquids is provided with fiber-coupled QCLs and detectors supplied by VIGO System. With the use of ATR spectroscopy, that has a very good signal-to-noise ratio and the analysis will not require pre-cleaned samples to guarantee supply of clean and refreshing water to citizens.
Fuel quality assessment
Gas analysis methods are used for fuel quality assessment in monitoring composition and quality of liquids, including fuels and petroleum products. This is achievable thanks to an absorption spectroscopy method based on unique character of absorption spectra of the analyzed substances. As each chemical compound absorbs the interacting radiation in a different and unique way, the composition of a given sample can be identified based on a principle similar to fingerprint analysis. Wave sources in measuring instruments are thermal objects characterized by a wide emission spectrum, or monochromatic QCLs with high beam coherence and power. Depending on the application, the liquid to be analyzed is illuminated with radiation from one of the aforementioned sources. After it goes through the sample, the radiation illuminates an infrared detector, which thanks to advanced technological processed developed by our supplier VIGO is optimized for wavelength, active surface area, cooling, immersion and dedicated electronics. All that enables simple and precise liquid analysis.
Engine emissions’ monitoring and control
Increasingly strict standards concerning the presence of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and dusts in car exhaust gases force the vehicle manufacturers to use precise and reliable gas analyzers for monitoring and control of an Engine emissions’. That creates demand for spectroscopes that guarantee top accuracy. To meet the demand from the market HgCdTe detectors are perfect for spectrum analysis and has a sensitivity within a broad wavelength range from 2 to 16 µm. They enable detection of all fuel combustion products, as the absorption lines of the substances searched for fall within the range of the wavelengths detected by the devices. That is how concentrations of CO2, CO, NOX and hydrocarbons can be monitored. Thanks to the excellent sensitivity, resolutions at the level of a single ppm or even ppt can be obtained, which means ultra-accurate estimation of trace amount of a substance. It is worth stressing that the detection limits of VIGO devices are at the top world levels, and reach the fundamental BLIP limits.
Temperature distribution analyzation in fast moving objects
For applications where response time is a safety mater and errors can effect hundreds of people, and failures and delays can result in financial loss an IR-Detector with unbeatable speed and sensitivity will make all the difference. One of the main applications of PV photodiodes, which are the hearts of detection modules, is measuring the temperature of train sets. There are various types of heat sensors available on the market, and our supplier VIGO System products excel with their pyroelectric bodies, bolometers and thermocouples in terms of response time, limit of detection, and resistance to external conditions. Detectors incorporated in devices installed between the rails enable contactless, real-time measurement of the temperature of wheels, brakes, shock absorbers and chassis of train sets. Information on possible overheating is immediately sent to competent units. Detectors can also be used for scanning rolling stock before a train enters a tunnel.
Using IR-detectors is a great option for medical applications. Successful attempts at measuring oxygen saturation, blood flow, and even glucose content have been documented, with an error rate comparable to that shown by traditional glucose meters, which could be a suitable option for non-invasive blood analysis. This is achieved by analyzing the spectrum of laser radiation reflected from parts of human body supplied with large amounts of blood.
Additional commercial devices that utilize IR-Detectors and its technology are apparatuses for exhaled air analysis. They enable determining tumor marker levels, or diagnosing asthma or liver diseases. Furthermore, these devices can be used for monitoring the composition of air in operating rooms. Addition, IR-detectors can be used in applications for controlling the power and positioning of laser beams used by surgeons, dentists or dermatologists.
IR-Detectors are even found in space. Our supplier VIGO System participates in international space research projects headed up by NASA and ESA. Currently their detectors are part of two different Mars exploration programs. First, MSL, where the detector is a part of a tunable laser spectrometer installed on the Curiosity rover, and secondly, ExoMars where VIGO System's products are incorporated in ICOTOM radiometers used for monitoring the external coating of landers. Devices contain uncooled photodiodes optimized for wavelengths of 4 and 8 μm. The instrument had to meet specific requirements for space technology, concerning in particular high resistance to mechanical impact, increased temperature and vacuum. A difficult task was to ensure very low fumigation of all the materials used for building the instrument. Positive results of detectors operation are an indication that the devices will be further used during space exploration expeditions.
IR-Detectors can be used for radiocarbon dating or analyzing the chemical composition of minerals in archaeology.
*Note that above mentioned applications are examples from our supplier VIGO Systems Application Pages (reproduced with permission) of how their IR-Detectors are used in different applications. For more information about how to integrate photonics components in your applications please get in touch with us.