A sensitive nature

Light is an invaluable tool for very diverse applications, but none more so than sensing. And sensing with multiple wavelengths takes many forms—for example, tunable diode laser absorption spectroscopy (TDLAS) is being used around the world to monitor the atmosphere.

Light is an invaluable tool for very diverse applications, but none more so than sensing. And sensing with multiple wavelengths takes many forms—for example, tunable diode laser absorption spectroscopy (TDLAS) is being used around the world to monitor the atmosphere (see article). And Raman spectroscopy, when incorporating a well-chosen laser (see article), is a cutting-edge analytical technique applicable to many industries and markets. Hyperspectral imaging, a form of imaging spectroscopy, can reveal subtle color and texture differences in tissue samples and so serve the needs of the most sensitive biological pathology (see article).

Optical fiber, acting in a sensing rather than communications function, has been an important tool since the 1970s, and the development of the fiber Bragg grating (FBG) sensor has truly revolutionized sensing. As Alan Kersey from CytoVeris writes in his perspective on FBG sensing, over the past 30 years “there have been incredible strides in capability and innovative sensing formats developed and commercialized (see article).” Thanks to FBGs and other fiber manufacturing techniques, optical fiber is the tool of choice for numerous energy, transportation, security, and biomedical applications (see article).

As a communications tool, optical fiber has another claim to fame, as an essential tool enabling the Internet, along with new services such as datacom and new infrastructure such as data centers. The newest generation, known as hyperscale data centers, will need datacom components that are manufactured with ever-faster flexibility and speed (see article). And the successful automated manufacturing of these photonics components will require the sort of sensing techniques that photonics is ready to supply.

More in Spectroscopy