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Advanced Optical Technologies

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Volume 5, Issue 4


Methodology for the design, production, and test of plastic optical displacement sensors

Maik Rahlves / Christian Kelb / Eduard Reithmeier
  • Hannover Centre for Optical Technologies, Nienburger Straße 17, 30167 Hannover, Germany
  • Institute of Measurement and Automatic Control, Nienburger Straße 17, 30167 Hannover, Germany
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Bernhard Roth
Published Online: 2016-06-25 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/aot-2016-0027


Optical displacement sensors made entirely from plastic materials offer various advantages such as biocompatibility and high flexibility compared to their commonly used electrical and glass-based counterparts. In addition, various low-cost and large-scale fabrication techniques can potentially be utilized for their fabrication. In this work we present a toolkit for the design, production, and test of such sensors. Using the introduced methods, we demonstrate the development of a simple all-optical displacement sensor based on multimode plastic waveguides. The system consists of polymethylmethacrylate and cyclic olefin polymer which serve as cladding and core materials, respectively. We discuss several numerical models which are useful for the design and simulation of the displacement sensors as well as two manufacturing methods capable of mass-producing such devices. Prior to fabrication, the sensor layout and performance are evaluated by means of a self-implemented ray-optical simulation which can be extended to various other types of sensor concepts. Furthermore, we discuss optical and mechanical test procedures as well as a high-precision tensile testing machine especially suited for the characterization of the opto-mechanical performance of such plastic optical displacement sensors.

Keywords: displacement measurement; hot embossing; integrated plastic optics; lamination techniques; plastic optics; polymer sensors


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About the article

Received: 2016-04-19

Accepted: 2016-05-31

Published Online: 2016-06-25

Published in Print: 2016-08-01

Citation Information: Advanced Optical Technologies, Volume 5, Issue 4, Pages 325–334, ISSN (Online) 2192-8584, ISSN (Print) 2192-8576, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/aot-2016-0027.

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