integrated photonics: novel silicon-based on-chip sensors for space applications. Researchers at the SANT’ANNA school TECIP institute work on project ARTEMIDE, funded by ASI (Italian Space Agency), for real time satellite tracking

Successful space missions rely on communication, observation, monitoring, tracking, and data collection via satellites. Reliable communication from space allows improving the health monitoring of aerospace structures. The role that the novel sensors can play in the damage detection and prediction, life cycle monitoring and shape reconstruction is crucial. To increase the aircraft security and ensure service continuity these fibre optic sensors can offer a combination of mission-critical benefits over conventional electronic sensors.

Integrated photonics has become the mainstream technology over electronics for applications covering long-haul data communications, radio-frequency photonics, and on-chip spectroscopic sensing. Nevertheless, in developing on-chip integrated systems that reduce size, weight, power and cost limitations, scientists need to address the challenge of real-time monitoring.

Researchers working on the project ARTEMIDE at the TeCIP Institute INRETE Lab. can solve the main challenge for the integration of all functions into a microstructure. Miniaturized sensing silicon-based devices allow developing detection systems that enable ultra-dense integration of complex circuits into processor chips. Silicon photonics devices processing functionalities on the chip scale is currently one of the most promising technology for space applications: “Miniaturized sensing silicon-based devices would enable the implementation of sensing networks in space environments and large/small-scale orbiting satellites. Miniaturization is a key approach for smaller satellites reducing timescales and costs. Modern small satellites are changing the remote sensing and communication aspects through data mining and knowledge extraction. In the next years miniaturization will show its impact the same way MEMS sensor has been a major enabler of innovation”, said Claudio Oton, a researcher at the TeCIP Institute and the project coordinator.

ARTEMIDE is an ASI (Italian Space Agency) funded project in partnership with Sant’Anna School spinoff company Infibra Technologies.