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Newly developed sensor will support advances in temperature measurement

Circuit board

The project

European Metrology Programme for Innovation and Research (EMPIR) project Photonic and Optomechanical Sensors for Nanoscaled and Quantum Thermometry (17FUN05, PhotOQuant) is working to design, fabricate, and characterise different optomechanical systems for temperature measurement. Calibration methods will also be developed to make the sensors traceable to the International Temperature Scale of 1990 (ITS-90).

For a wide range of processes, from consumer electronics to space instrumentation, there is a growing need to make temperature measurements at smaller scales. The range of thermometers available prior to this project, however, could not meet this challenge. Nanotechnology now offers the possibility of innovative ‘optomechanical’ sensors capable of measuring temperature on micrometre length scales. Not only could these new temperature sensors replace the standard high-accuracy platinum resistance thermometers but, embedded into production processes, many industrial users could benefit from the technology.

Photonic sensors use light-matter interaction to measure temperature and other physical quantities via temperature-dependent material properties. A particularly promising new development is the possibility of using optomechanical sensors to produce quantum primary standards. Photonic and optomechanical temperature sensors enable a spatial resolution adapted for the measurement of temperature at micrometer length scale where usual sensors are unsuitable.

New optomechanical resonator fabricated

As part of this EMPIR project, a state of the art optomechanical resonator has been fabricated with extremely efficient photonic shielding. This device enables a new generation of quantum temperature standards for use in ambient environments.

Project coordinator Stéphan Briaudeau from LNE said

‘Such a high quality device enables high optomechanical coupling and thus efficient optical transduction of the thermal vibrations for their optical detection’.

Beyond sensing capability on the micro- and nano-scale, other advantages of this new sensor include reduced cost, better portability and robustness, and increased resistance to mechanical shock and electrical interference. Additionally, optomechanical sensors could be developed as a future quantum-based primary standard for temperature measurement.


This EMPIR project is co-funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the EMPIR Participating States.

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