Worldwide mid IR sensor markets are poised to achieve significant growth as the Internet of things creates demand for more and more sensors. Everything needs a sensor to be connected to the Internet and available to smart phone apps.
Mid IR sensors can measure chemical composition of materials and gas. The efficiency is unmatched by any other technology; cost is increasingly competitive. Mid IR is extending use beyond military applications to commercial systems, including the Internet of things where sensors become part of network systems.
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Mid IR sensors are the base of the Internet of Things initiatives, they form the building blocks for all different types of imaging and controls. Drones, robots, industrial robots, machines, cameras, buildings, fire departments, traffic lights, traffic control, the military, the border patrol, law enforcement, healthcare, asthma treatment, virtually everyone will increasingly use mid IR sensors.
The Internet of Things (IoT) does not work without sensors, mid IR sensors provide a significant aspect of modern visualization and sensing. Drones use mid IR sensors for cameras and for navigation. Robots use mid IR cameras for navigation. The intelligence community has used this mid IR sensor technology for a long time and the technology is now gaining traction in the commercial markets.
Mid IR sensors can measure chemical composition of materials and gas. The efficiency is unmatched by any other technology; cost is increasingly competitive. Mid IR has extended use beyond military applications to commercial systems, including the Internet of things where sensors become part of network systems.
Mid-IR QCL systems have achieved price performance levels that are increasingly attractive. Vendors bring sensing capabilities to a broad range of applications, including: spectroscopic and bio-medical imaging; materials characterization; standoff explosive detection; microscopy; and non-destructive testing. Spectroscopy and imaging measurements are easier, faster and more cost-effective leveraging advances in mid IR sensing.
The lasing wavelength for QCL’s is determined by the choice of semiconductor material. By adjusting the physical thickness of the semiconductor layers new functionality is achieved. This removes the material barriers associated with conventional semiconductor laser technology.
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An infrared spectroscopic laser source has no need for cryogenic cooling, provides high output powers, has large spectral coverage, provides excellent spectral quality, and has good tunability. The removal of the noise floor provides competitive advantage because it can be implemented without the need of complex fringe removal techniques. It can be done without expensive optical isolators. The feature that allows manageable removal of the noise floor enables the laboratory performance of technology to be commercialized.
Mid IR analyzers in process control are expected to save trillions of Btus annually in the petrochemical sector. Process control and environmental monitoring potential applications are evolving for this technology.
Examples of mid IR applications follow.
Combustion emissions analysis
• Fugitive emissions control
• Contraband detection
• Improved safety conditions for plant workers
• On-site detection of chemicals
Medical applications include human breath monitoring, glucose sensing, cancer detection and diagnostics, eye surgery, and environmental health monitoring. Medical and industrial monitoring utilizes trace detection of benzene, toluene or xylene. Medical applications account for a growing mid-IR laser market. The medical area is evolving in both diagnostics and treatment. Improved diagnostics are made possible through photonic technologies. Mid IR sensors deliver a better understanding of disease: Optical molecular imaging is anticipated to be significant.
Mid IR sensors hold the possibility of making medicine much more advanced because of the visibility into patient conditions that will be possible. As visibility into patient condition is refined, so also remedies will be much more refined. Energy efficiency and clean, renewable energy will mean a stronger economy, a cleaner environment, and greater energy independence. Working with a wide array of state, community, industry, and university partners, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy invests in a diverse set of energy technologies.
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Mid-IR sensor systems have achieved price to performance levels adequate to assure rapid adoption. Capabilities address a broad range of applications, including: location of people as targets, spectroscopic and bio-medical imaging; materials characterization; standoff explosive detection; microscopy; non-destructive testing. Spectroscopy, and imaging measurements. These are easier, faster, and cost-effective.
Military applications account for a significant portion of mid IR sensor markets. The remaining part of revenue comes from CO2 sensors, building sensors, and units for a range of different markets. Markets at $4.19 billion in 2015 are anticipated to reach $30 billion by 2022 as price performance increases and unit costs decrease from $3,000 per unit to $2,000 per high end unit. $300 per mid-range sensor has dropped to $200. $8 has dropped to $6 per unit providing price points that make the sensors affordable. or less per unit on average drive further interest from commercial buyers.
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