Real-time measurements with optical switches for process analysis

Optical technologies are now indispensable tools for process analysis systems in the chemicals and pharmaceuticals industries. The real-time measurement of relevant parameters not only achieves significant cost savings but also provides key insights into the process and therefore a considerable increase in product quality.

Typically, the optical signal from the processes will be transmitted using high-quality, low-absorption fused silica fibers to a spectrometer for analysis. As a leading manufacturer, LEONI has supplied packaged fiber optic cable solutions and assemblies for process analytical technology for many years now. Another key component has now been added: LEONI has expanded its product family of optical switches to include a variant that is tailored precisely to match the requirements of process analysis systems. These switches are utilized in order to activate and send the signals from various fiber optic lines to a spectrometer input at certain points in time.

The biggest challenge in this kind of application is suppressing reflectance from optical boundary surfaces. On plane-parallel surfaces, reflectance creates interference structures that are superimposed on the measured values and can therefore distort the signal. Thanks to the extremely precise orientation of the components, the intensity and periodicity of the interference signals is configured to avoid any disruptions in the measurement’s wavelength range while maintaining low signal attenuation.

LEONI supplies the optical switches with step-index fibers up to a core diameter of 600 µm and in the configurations 1x2, 2x2 or 1x4. Customers can choose a fiber type to suit their specific requirements in the 200 nm to 2,500 nm range. The switches are assembled with various connectors as required by the application and can be supplied as complete, packaged systems in a range of housings.

Their outstanding reliability in extreme environmental conditions has been proven by their deployment in the Cold Atom Lab on the International Space Station (ISS) to support basic research in the fields of quantum physics and general relativity.

Fiber optical switches for single- and multimode applications
Fiber optical switches from LEONI are based on a micro-mechanical/micro-optical design featuring high-precision optics. These offer excellent parameters, superior flexibility, and long-lasting stability for a wide variety of applications. The switches are available for a broad spectrum ranging from ultraviolet to infrared, and can be manufactured and operated with virtually any fiber (both cascaded and non-cascaded), many interfaces, and almost any size of housing.