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Hybrid electronic–photonic sensors on a fibre tip


Most sensors rely on a change in an electrical parameter to the measurand of interest. Their direct readout via an electrical wire and an electronic circuit is, in principle, technically simple, but it is subject to electromagnetic interference, preventing its application in several industrial environments. Fibre-optic sensors can overcome these limitations because the sensing region and readout region can be spaced apart, sometimes by kilometres. However, fibre-optic sensing typically requires complex interrogation equipment due to the extremely high wavelength accuracy that is required. Here we combine the sensitivity and flexibility of electronic sensors with the advantages of optical readout, by demonstrating a hybrid electronic–photonic sensor integrated on the tip of a fibre. The sensor is based on an electro-optical nanophotonic structure that uses the strong co-localization of static and electromagnetic fields to simultaneously achieve a voltage-to-wavelength transduction and a modulation of reflectance. We demonstrate the possibility of reading the current–voltage characteristics of the electro-optic diode through the fibre and therefore its changes due to the environment. As a proof of concept, we show the application of this method to cryogenic temperature sensing. This approach allows fibre-optic sensing to take advantage of the vast toolbox of electrical sensing modalities for many different measurands.

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Fig. 1: Working principle of the fully optical interrogation of an electrical sensor.
Fig. 2: IV characteristics of the p–i–n junction.
Fig. 3: Cryogenic temperature sensing.

Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request. Source data are provided with this paper.


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We thank T. Huiskamp and R. Serra (Eindhoven University of Technology) for help in the realization of electric-field measurement setup (Supplementary information). This work was funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) Zwaartekracht Research Center for Integrated Nanophotonics grant no. 024.002.033 (L.P. and P.J.v.V.). It is part of the research program of the NWO.

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Authors and Affiliations



L.P. designed, fabricated and assembled the devices and performed the experiments. P.J.v.V. performed the growth of the material layer stack. A.F. and E.V. supervised the project. L.P. and A.F. wrote the paper.

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Correspondence to L. Picelli.

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Nature Nanotechnology thanks Thomas Krauss and Avi Zadok for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figs. 1–3 and discussion.

Supplementary Data 1

Source data for Supplementary Fig. 3b.

Source data

Source Data Fig. 1

Source data of the plots.

Source Data Fig. 2

Source data of the plots.

Source Data Fig. 3

Source data of the plots.

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Picelli, L., van Veldhoven, P.J., Verhagen, E. et al. Hybrid electronic–photonic sensors on a fibre tip. Nat. Nanotechnol. 18, 1162–1167 (2023).

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