The steady progress in photonic components in terms of cost-to-performance ratio, maturity and robustness opens new avenues for the commercial deployment of photonic sensor systems in a wide range of industrial applications. Advanced sensing can be used to optimize complex processes and thereby enable significant savings in energy consumption. Three cases of robust photonic instrumentation for process optimization and quality control in manufacturing industries are presented: improved metal recycling with laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy, quality control in precision machining by white-light interferometry with optical fiber probes embedded in machining tools, and process optimization in steel foundries by stand-off temperature measurements in blast furnaces with optical fiber lances and spectral analysis techniques. Each of these methods utilizes a low-cost spectrometer, and requires dedicated calibration and signal processing methods to guarantee robust operation in industrial environments with varying conditions. Experimental results are presented, including on-line steel alloy analysis with correct classification rates in excess of 95%, distance measurements with axial resolution of +/- 2nm over a 75μm range, and continuous temperature monitoring of molten steel in oxygen blast furnaces with temperature measurement accuracy better than 1%.
A two core Gemini fiber structure is described with easily accessible cores and suitable for sensing applications. The
cross-section of the fiber consists of independent circular cross-sectioned fibers, connected to each other by a narrow
glass bridge. The Gemini fiber is mechanically rigid and thermally stable making it suitable for sensing applications
with the advantage of allowing for easier coupling at the input and output extremes. A temperature independent bend
sensor based on Bragg gratings in the Gemini fiber is demonstrated.