Polymer Optics and Photonics

Research Focus: Polymer Optics and Photonics

[Translate to English:] Beispiel
[Translate to English:] Beispiel

Polymer-based optics and optical sensors offer great advantages compared to conventional materials due to their enhanced design and machining capabilities. This is especially true in modern optical components and systems. These advantages are:

  • high reliability, robustness and precision
  • low cost
  • high reproducibility
  • high versatility
  • highly integrable

It is possible to drastically reduce the cost of optics by implementing large-area manufacturing methods. However, the process paramters of such large-scale production techniques still have to be better explored and characterized. There is also a need to better understand the optical properties (concerning wear and tear, ageing, environmental considerations... ) and optical design parameters.

The underlying idea of this research project is to realize entirely polymer-based, large-area integrated optical systems. Such a system can be divided into three components, which may be present several times: an emitter, a sensor or transducer and a receiver. The goal is to implement such a transmission setup in a polymer foil which can be used in a variety of ways (e.g. online-monitoring of various physical parameters in the aerospace industry). The advantages of such a structure are its light weight, robustness and the possibility to take measurements in parallel at a wide range of positions (e.g. on an aircraft wing).

To realize these project goals, HOT is collaborating with the Institut für Systemtechnik (IMTEK) of the faculty for applied sciences at the Albert-Ludwig-Universität Freiburg. IMTEK is involved in this project with six out of twenty-two faculty staff, HOT has entered the project with eleven institutes.

With this pooling of resources, a team has been set up which will develop one of the key technologies of the 21st century and make it applicable in the future.


  • PlanOS-SFB Sub-Project C05
    Subproject C05 is investigating polymer-based sensors for life science. These sensors enable the optical and spectroscopic analytics in fluidic systems. The aim is to design a sensor, which is able to detect lowest analytic concentrations (final target single-molecule sensitivity). Operating principle of the sensor are Whispering gallery resonances in microspheres.
    Leaders: M. Wollweber, U. Morgner
    Year: 2013
    Sponsors: DFG
  • PlanOS-SFB Teilprojekt C02
    The subproject C02 explores novel polymer-based sensor structures for optical strain-measurement, in terms of different sensor types as well as in terms of different manufacturing processes. In the long run, all approaches aim at a large-scale and a low-cost manufacturing process (e.g., roll-to-roll). The goal is the integration of sensor systems on polymer foils, which convert strain amplitude and direction into optical signals, enabling a wide range of applications. The main challenge lays in the implementation of strain sensors, which are based on intensity- and spectral-modulation, the study of parasitic effects and the development of calibration concepts as well as advancing lab-typical production processes to large-scale processes.
    Leaders: B. Roth
    Year: 2013
    Sponsors: DFG
  • PlanOS-SFB Sub-Project B04
    Aim of this project is the design and fabrication of micro-optical structures for guiding light inside thin polymer foils as well as coupling light into and out of the foil. To realize a large area sensor network within PlanOS, a perfect interaction between all optical devices such as light sources, sensors and detectors is of great importance. Therefore, micro-optical structures are necessary, which connect all components to the sensor foil. One of the key issues is to increase the coupling efficiency of these linking structures as much as possible to gain maximum performance of the sensor networks.
    Leaders: M. Rahlves
    Year: 2013
    Sponsors: DFG
    Lifespan: 4 Years
  • Polymer optics
    Leaders: B. Roth
    Year: 2011