Bridging the sensor gap

Dec. 1, 1996
The number and variety of integrated optical sensors being developed are increasing rapidly. With research being conducted in both novel integrated optical designs and the microfabrication techniques required to manufacture them, engineers with expertise in only one of these areas are finding that they need to be familiar with the other to effectively create and use these new devices. This text attempts to bridge the ga¥between these two fields in a way that is accessible to readers starting

Bridging the sensor gap

Integrated Optics, Microstructures, and Sensors

Massood Tabib-Azar, Kluwer Academic Press, The Netherlands, 1995, 399 pages, $140.

The number and variety of integrated optical sensors being developed are increasing rapidly. With research being conducted in both novel integrated optical designs and the microfabrication techniques required to manufacture them, engineers with expertise in only one of these areas are finding that they need to be familiar with the other to effectively create and use these new devices. This text attempts to bridge the ga¥between these two fields in a way that is accessible to readers starting from either side.

In Section I the book outlines the basics of integrated optics, concentrating on simple waveguides, the optics of materials, and a few examples. Readers with no optics background will need to go elsewhere for an introduction, as the material here assumes the reader is very familiar with the basics. Section II covers the different techniques used to fabricate microstructures. While the book cannot be expected to give a lot of detail into this art, I found that the brief introductions to a broad variety of methods gave a good explanation of how things are done. Finally, Section III attempts to put everything together to describe how sensors are designed, how they work, and how they are made. This is accomplished by providing numerous examples of actual or potential sensors.

Unfortunately, many grammatical and proofing errors make reading the first few chapters very awkward, and these problems reappear sporadically throughout the remainder of the book. The graphics are clean and easy to understand, and, although they contain little more than block diagrams, they give ample representation of the content of the text. The few detailed photographs and figures that do appear are of high quality.

Overall the book gives a good cursory introduction to the types of devices and their production methods currently at the forefront of integrated-sensor technology. The brief descriptive accounts of the theory and the example devices are consistent in their content, containing little or no derivations and concentrating on the basics of how the sensors work. This makes the text well suited as an introduction for readers with no experience in either integrated optics or microfabrication who wish to familiarize themselves with the types of sensor designs that are possible and how they might be manufactured.

As only the most important mathematical results are reproduced, the material here will assist practicing engineers in tackling only the most rudimentary design issues. For those wishing a more rigorous background, references are given for more technical descriptions and derivations, although some of the more standard texts on the subject are not mentioned. All in all the text provides an easy introduction to the meeting of these two verging fields.

Robert J. Beeson

Robert J. Beeson is a senior research engineer at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, TX 78228.

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