Trends in Optical Sensors today
Optical sensors are sensory devices that can be used as instruments or elements to relay signals from the sensors to the electronics that eventually process these signals..
Optical sensors are sensory devices that can be used as instruments or elements to relay signals from the sensors to the electronics that eventually process these signals. Optical sensors have more applicability today, than its traditional range of applications in the field of remote sensing. Some of the characteristics of the device that make it suitable for application are its small size, coupled with its ability to function without electrical power (making it convenient to be used at remote places), its ability to be multiplexed along the length of the fibers and its ability to sense time delay as light passes through each sensor etc. Additionally, these sensors are known to be immune to electromagnetic interference and do not conduct electricity. These are reasons why optical sensors can withstand themselves from low and high temperatures.
Optical sensors are available in the size of micro-probes or large devices for monitoring and capturing continuous information. These optic sensors are widely being used for multiple applications ranging from monitoring stress in airplanes to helping doctors monitor their patients etc.
Optical sensors can be segmented on the basis of type as Fiber Optic Sensors, Image sensors, Position Sensors, Ambient Light and Proximity Sensors and Infrared Sensors. These sensors are capable of surviving harsh conditions and can thus be employed in segments like aerospace, medical, industrial, telecommunications, structural and oil and gas applications.
The Market, valued at approximately $ 14.5 billion, is experiencing a growth rate of 6.33% and this value of CAGR is expected to only rise in the near future due to the overall demand in the sector. Its high cost acts as a major constraint, limiting its applications only to areas that can afford the high capital. The prominent areas of its applications are in medical/ healthcare, aerospace and defense, and oil and gas.
Optical sensor in Healthcare
The market is experiencing high growth in the domain of 3D shape sensing. This application is however relatively new. The age-old application of these optical sensors for in vivo processes in the healthcare sector, have been replaced by placing or inserting these devices in places of the human body which cannot be easily accessed.
Optical Sensors in Oil and Gas
The commercial uses of the Fibercore (Optical fiber) in the femtosecond laser are tremendously benefiting the oil and gas Industry. The femtosecond gratings uses pure silica core fibres that do not react with the hydrogen, thereby increasing the lifespan of the fiber and reducing the need for continuous replacement and repair.
Electro-optical sensors can be found in the energy and power domain to monitor structures that generate electrical power. The distributed nature of optical fibres makes them ideal especially for pipeline, wind turbine, power line, offshore platform and transportation monitoring.
Applications in Semiconductors
These instruments can be found in thermal methods which vary the interferometer in order to switch the signal, MEMS to deflect the optical signal, piezoelectric beam to change the liquid crystals and acousto-optics to deflect light.
Apart from the traditional applications of Image sensors, position sensors and proximity sensors in Space related applications, fiber lasers are being used in satellite missions.
Due to the breadth of applications of the technology, design and functionality are essential to the technology. A lack of adequate technical skills and knowledge in the physical, material and environmental properties of these instruments is a big hurdle that needs to be crossed. Additionally wide-scale and extensive R&D in the domain will also call for a high amount of investment.
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