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Proceedings Paper

Low-cost fabrication of optical waveguides, interconnects and sensing structures on all-polymer-based thin foils
Author(s): Maher Rezem; Christian Kelb; Axel Günther; Maik Rahlves; Eduard Reithmeier; Bernhard Roth
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Paper Abstract

Micro-optical sensors based on optical waveguides are widely used to measure temperature, force and strain but also to detect biological and chemical substances such as explosives or toxins. While optical micro-sensors based on silicon technology require complex and expensive process technologies, a new generation of sensors based completely on polymers offer advantages especially in terms of low-cost and fast production techniques. We have developed a process to integrate micro-optical components such as embedded waveguides and optical interconnects into polymer foils with a thickness well below one millimeter. To enable high throughput production, we employ hot embossing technology, which is capable of reel-to-reel fabrication with a surface roughness in the optical range. For the waveguide fabrication, we used the thermoplastic polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) as cladding and several optical adhesives as core materials. The waveguides are characterized with respect to refractive indices and propagation losses. We achieved propagation losses are as low as 0.3 dB/cm. Furthermore, we demonstrate coupling structures and their fabrication especially suited to integrate various light sources such as vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSEL) and organic light emitting diodes (OLED) into thin polymer foils. Also, we present a concept of an all-polymer and waveguide based deformation sensor based on intensity modulation, which can be fabricated by utilizing our process. For future application, we aim at a low-cost and high-throughput reel-to-reel production process enabling the fabrication of large sensor arrays or disposable single-use sensing structures, which will open optical sensing to a large variety of application fields ranging from medical diagnosis to automotive sensing.

Paper Details

Date Published: 3 March 2016
PDF: 6 pages
Proc. SPIE 9751, Smart Photonic and Optoelectronic Integrated Circuits XVIII, 975112 (3 March 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2213182
Show Author Affiliations
Maher Rezem, Leibniz Univ. Hannover (Germany)
Christian Kelb, Leibniz Univ. Hannover (Germany)
Axel Günther, Leibniz Univ. Hannover (Germany)
Maik Rahlves, Leibniz Univ. Hannover (Germany)
Eduard Reithmeier, Leibniz Univ. Hannover (Germany)
Bernhard Roth, Leibniz Univ. Hannover (Germany)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9751:
Smart Photonic and Optoelectronic Integrated Circuits XVIII
Sailing He; El-Hang Lee; Louay A. Eldada, Editor(s)

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