A range of activities involving optical fibres and waveguide devices are under way at Fraunhofer CAP. Confining light into waveguides can bring advantages in form as well as function. Fibre lasers can spread the optical gain over several meters of active fibre whilst delivering a near perfect spatial mode. Waveguides fabricated in customised glass substrates can form miniature laboratories performing advanced spectroscopy on microfluidic channels across sub-millimetre distances.
Chalcogenide glasses are an ideal candidate for the study of nonlinear optics and mid-infrared transmission.
Current projects include the development of multi-core active fibre, with arrays of fibre lasers contained within a single strand of glass. The incorporation of nano-materials into the core of optical fibres can bring further functionality. A collaboration with the Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute in Kolkata is at the forefront of these research activities.
As new fibre and waveguide components are developed, new optical instrumentation exploiting them is also enabled. Working with the local renewable energy industry, Fraunhofer CAP is developing a new type of wind LIDAR to provide rapid profiling of wind speed as it approaches a turbine with the goal of protecting these structures, ensuring their efficient operation and reducing the cost of operation and therefore reducing the cost of offshore wind energy.