The FAOS -project develops a new paradigm for flexible optical sensors integrated with electronic modules and control circuitry. The many advantages of optical sensors, and mainly optical fiber sensors, make them very attractive for a wide range of applications. The immunity with regard to EMI (electromagnetic interferences), the resistance to harsh environments, the high sensitivity and the possibility in parallelizing the readout all make these sensors more useful than their electronic counterparts for automotive applications, aviation, robotics and others.
The use of these optical sensors however always implies the use of a light-source, detectors and electronic circuitry to be coupled and integrated with these sensors. The coupling of these fibers with these light sources and detectors is a critical packaging problem and as it is well-known the costs for packaging, especially with optoelectronic components and fiber alignment issues are huge and can make out up to 90% of the total cost of the module. Due to these problems optical sensing is not yet implemented in practical applications.
The FAOS -project is therefore aiming at developing a generic technology that offers an integrated solution to this increasing demand and will mean a breakthrough in the field of optical sensing. The project aims at developing a flexible substrate or foil in which the sensing elements can be integrated and in which also the light sources, detectors and electronic circuitry are embedded or integrated on compact signal processing boards. This artificial and flexible optical sensing foil can then be applied to irregular surfaces (e.g. for distributed sensing applications), on moveable surfaces (e.g. in robotics) or can folded into compact modules (for portable devices, automotive, etc).
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