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Towards Silicon Photonics Based Gas Sensors

Towards Silicon Photonics Based Gas Sensors

Evgeny Rebrov1, Rob Lennox2 

1School of Engineering, University of Warwick, CV4 7AL

2Eblana Photonics, 3 Old Dunleary Rd, Dún Laoghaire, Dublin, A96 A621, Ireland


Silicon photonics (SiPh) based miniaturised gas sensors will provide a major technological leap towards low cost, highly selective, accurate and cost competitive gas sensors. SiPh is already driving photonic-based technologies to new heights in other application areas however, SiPh based gas sensing is still in its infancy. A financial analysis of the commercial market suggests that a unit price of USD 20-100 could be achieved, 50-100x lower than commercial laser-based gas analysers, but much additional development is required.

We look forward to identifying innovative ideas and sharing expertise to make silicon photonics-based sensors more accessible to a broader community. Taking on Prof. Rebrov’s track record in Tunable Diode Laser Absorption Spectroscopy (TDLAS) based gas sensing and that of Eblana Photonics as a manufacturer of advanced photonics emitters and detectors for the gas sensing market, and the extended back-end chip fabrication facilities provided by the company, the PhD will work on design of the miniaturised gas sensors, targeted specifically towards commercialisation of such gas sensors.

Apart from emissions monitoring, the activities will also cover a broader sphere of in-situ & real time detection applications such as breath analysis, environmental monitoring, leaks detection, hydrocarbon gas sensing, and monitoring of hotspot areas (such as toxic gases and explosive precursors).

The project will have the support of Prof. Thomas Fernholz from the University of Nottingham on the development of Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) electronics, Prof. Senthil Murugan (ORC, University of Southampton) for the development of mid IR waveguides and laboratories in UK and Ireland.

The prime focus will be on the full utilisation of near-infrared technologies on silicon platforms which targets low-cost large volume markets, and then towards more sensitive (parts per billion to parts per trillion) mid-IR integrated photonic technologies for environmental and emission monitoring applications, and then towards integrated modular multi-gas sensing platforms. Initial target will be on the development of laboratory prototypes for specific projects and then towards commercial development and applications, for gases such as CH4, CO2, CO, SO2, NOx and NH3.  

The student will be expected to spend time at Eblana Photonics, Dublin. Several short stays are expected at the University of Nottingham and the University of Southampton.