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Thermal Sensors

Scientific profile

The scientific focus of the thermosensors work group lies in the research and development of photonic sensors based on the thermoelectric conversion principle. Research in solid-state physics and materials science, as well as the advancement of highly-effective thermoelectric materials serves as the basis.

The sensors are generally designed for uncooled operation at room temperature. However, applications at higher and lower temperatures are also covered. This results in a particular compactness which is essential for many fields of application. The application range extends from visible light to the infrared (IR) and the upper THz range with a focus on the IR.

Typical sensors exhibit a high linearity across five orders of magnitude. This is particularly relevant for compact spectrometers which possess great potential in life science applications and are used in the environmental, health, and medical fields with particular emphasis on medical technology. In addition, these sensors are predestined for use in space applications which is reflected in the participation in various space projects:

  • ROSETTA (non-contact measurement of the surface temperature of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko),
  • Curiosity (several of IPHT’s TS-100 sensors for the non-contact measurement of the Martian surface temperature (see temperature profile),
  • BepiColombo (radiometer chip intended to measure both the temperature and the mineralogical composition of the mercury surface – launch expected in 2017),
  • Hayabusa II (non-contact measurement of the surface temperature of the Ryugu asteroid, as well as conclusions on the mineralogical composition),
  • InSight (non-contact measurement of the surface temperature on the planet Mars and conclusions on the mineralogical composition)

Our aim is to create complete, highly-sensitive measuring devices for high-end applications based on our own sensors. This includes the research and development of sensor components suitable for devices such as, for example, compact spectrometers and the associated system technologies (AVT, signal amplification, etc.).

Research topics

  • Photonic detectors with high sensitivity and linearity
  • Uncooled thermal IR and THz sensor systems
  • Investigation and advancement of highly-effective thermoelectric materials

Addressed fields of application

  • Thermoelectric sensor systems with high linearity and sensitivity
  • Applications in environment, health, medicine, and space travel
  • Pyrometry and spectroscopy from Vis to IR and THz
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