Researchers at Washington University are the first to successfully record environmental data in a local park using a drone mounted photonic sensor the size of a human hair.
The “internet of things” (IoT) is everywhere, millions of wireless sensors predominately based on electronics. These devices often are hampered by electromagnetic interference, such as disturbed audio or visual signals caused by a low-flying aeroplane.
The difference light can bring.
Optical sensors, like the one used by Washington University are “immune to electromagnetical interference and can provide a significant advantage in harsh environments,” said Lan Yang, who led the study.
“Optical sensors based on resonators show small footprints, extreme sensitivity and a number of functionalities, all of which lend capability and flexibility to wireless sensors,” Yang said. “Our work could pave the way to large-scale application of WGM sensors throughout the internet.”
Xiangyi Xu, the paper’s first author said “The sensor itself is made of glass and is the size of just one human hair; it is connected to the mainboard by a single optical fiber”. “A laser light is used to probe a WGM sensor. Light coupled out of the sensor is sent to a photodetector with a transmission amplifier.”
“The miniaturisation of resonator sensing systems represents an exciting opportunity for IoT, as it will enable IoT to exploit a new class of photonic sensors with unprecedented sensitivity and capabilities,” said Chenyang Lu, the Fullgraf Professor in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering and a co-author of the paper.