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19 September 2018

Leti-led EU project REDFINCH to develop PIC-based mid-IR portable sensors for chemical detection in gases and liquids

© Semiconductor Today Magazine / Juno PublishiPicture: Disco’s DAL7440 KABRA laser saw.

Grenoble-based micro- & nanotechnology R&D center CEA-Leti has launched the REDFINCH consortium to develop the next generation of miniaturized, portable optical sensors for chemical detection in both gases and liquids. Initial target applications are gas detection and analysis for refineries and the petrochemical industry and protein analysis for the dairy industry

Funded by the European Union’s ‘Horizon 2020’ program, the consortium of eight European research institutes and companies will focus on developing novel, high-performance, cost-effective chemical sensors based on mid-infrared photonic integrated circuits (MIR PICs). Silicon PICs — integrating optical circuits onto millimeter-size silicon chips — create robust miniature systems in which discrete components are replaced by on-chip equivalents, making them easier to use and reducing their cost dramatically (by at least a factor of 10, it is expected).

To develop these chemical sensors, the consortium must overcome the challenge of implementing these capabilities in the important mid-infrared region (spanning wavelengths of 2-20μm), where many important chemical and biological species have strong absorption fingerprints. This allows both the detection and concentration measurement of a wide range of gases, liquids and biomolecules, which is crucial for applications such as health monitoring and diagnosis, detection of biological compounds, and monitoring of toxic gases.

Initially, REDFINCH will focus on three specific applications:

  • process gas analysis in refineries;
  • gas leak detection in petrochemical plants and pipelines; and
  • protein analysis in liquids for the dairy industry.

Silicon photonics leverages the advantages of high-performance CMOS technology, providing low-cost mass manufacturing, high-fidelity reproduction of designs, and access to high-refractive-index contrasts that enable high-performance nanophotonics.

“Despite the mid-infrared wavelength region’s importance for a wide range of applications, current state-of-the-art sensing systems in the MIR tend to be large and delicate. This significantly limits their spreading in real-world applications,” says Jean-Guillaume Coutard, an instrumentation engineer at Leti, which is coordinating the project. “By harnessing the power of photonic integrated circuits, using hybrid and monolithic integration of III-V diode and interband cascade and quantum cascade materials with silicon, the consortium will create high-performance, cost-effective sensors for a number of industries.”

In addition to Leti, whose expertise includes the design and manufacture of PICs on a 200mm pilot line and integrated photoacoustic cells on silicon, the consortium members and contributions include:

  • Cork Institute of Technology (Ireland) – PIC design & fabrication, hybrid integration;
  • Université de Montpellier (France) – laser growth on silicon, photodetector growth;
  • Technische Universität Wien (Austria) – liquid spectroscopy, assembly/test of sensors;
  • mirSense (France) – MIR sensor products, laser module integration;
  • Argotech a.s. (Czech Republic) – assembly/packaging of PICs;
  • Fraunhofer IPM (Germany) – gas spectroscopy, instrument design/assembly; and
  • Endress+Hauser (Germany) – process gas analysis and expertise, testing validation.

Tags: Leti Mid-infrared detectors PIC

Visit: www.redfinch.eu

Visit: www.leti.fr

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