Optical microsystem for analyzing engine lubricants
Sensors for Harsh Environments
It is possible to dramatically improve the performance, reliability, and maintainability of vehicles and other similarly complex equipment if improved sensing and diagnostics systems are available. Each year military and commercial maintenance personnel unnecessarily replace, at scheduled intervals, significant amounts of lubricant fluids in vehicles, weapon systems, and supporting equipment. Personnel draw samples of fluids and send them to test labs for analysis to determine if replacement is
... necessary. Systematic use of either on-board (embedded) lubricant quality analysis capabilities will save millions of dollars each year in avoided fluid changes, saved labor, prevented damage to mechanical components while providing associated environmental benefits. This paper discusses the design, the manufacturing, and the evaluation of robust optical sensors designed to monitor the condition of industrial fluids. The sensors reported are manufactured from bulk fused silica substrates. They incorporate three-dimensional micro fluidic circuitry side-by-side with three-dimensional wave guided optical networks. The manufacturing of the optical waveguides are completed using a direct-write process based on the use of femtosecond laser pulses to locally alter the structure of the glass substrate at the nano-level. The microfluidic circuitry is produced using the same femtosecond laser based process, followed by an anisotropic wet chemical etching step. Data will be presented regarding the use of these sensors to monitor the quality of engine oil and possibly some other vehicle lubricants such as hydraulic oil.