Sentea leverages silicon photonics to develop a cost-effective fiber optic sensor interrogator.
October 7th, 2021 - Sentea, a leading supplier of read-out systems for fiber optic sensor, announced to have successfully raised € 2.3 million to further expand its business.
The investment round is supported by its current investors Finindus, PMV, Qbic II and Fidimec. Sentea’s photonic integrated technology enables large-scale deployment of fiber optic sensing for a wide array of monitoring applications, in civil engineering, oil & gas, renewable energy, industry, and medical instrumentation.
Earlier this year the company launched its suite of fiber Bragg grating (FBG) read-out systems, also referred to as interrogators, recognized for offering high performance with unprecedented cost-effectiveness. For more than a decade, fiber optic sensing has been considered a technically superior technology for monitoring large infrastructure, oil & gas installations, and mission-critical industrial assets. With Sentea’s interrogators, fiber optic sensors can be deployed economically in a much wider range of applications, bringing the benefits of very precise defect detection and prediction, lifetime extension and superior process control to buildings, motors, bearings, drive trains, electrical vehicles, chirurgical instruments, and more. The scalability of Sentea’s interrogators, combined with the spatial distribution feature of fiber optic sensors and their seamless integration with existing fiber networks, makes fiber optic sensing the ideal technology to implement smart city and smart grid monitoring services.
The proceeds of this investment round will finance the growth of Sentea’s commercial activities and scale-up the production capacity of its suite of FBG interrogators. Sentea will continue to invest in next-gen fiber optic sensing products and IoT developments, leveraging the benefits of its advanced silicon photonics platform optimized for sensing applications.
“Our cost-effective FBG interrogators are accelerating the adoption of fiber optic sensing both in the traditional civil engineering and oil & gas applications, and in the growing renewable energy, industrial and medical applications”, commented Karsten Verhaegen, CEO of Sentea. “Customers especially appreciate our high-speed and robust measurements as well as the edge computing capabilities and seamless integration with their systems.”
“Aged infrastructure and new, as well as more demanding engineering applications accelerate the demand for advanced structural health monitoring solutions and smart-sensing solutions”, says Dirk De Boever, Head of Investments at Finindus. “We are convinced that Sentea’s fiber sensing products will contribute to lifetime extension of mission-critical industrial assets and infrastructure and play a key role in increasing the performance and functionality of engineering applications.”
“We have been impressed with Sentea’s team and what they have accomplished. They built on the world-renowned expertise of UGent and imec in silicon photonics and nanoelectronics to bring to market world leading, highly scalable fiber sensing products. We are delighted to support the further growth of the company with this investment”, says Cédric Van Nevel, Junior Partner at Qbic II.
“Based on the most advanced silicon photonics technology, Sentea has succeeded in marketing affordable readout devices that can be applied in a wide range of market segments. This combination of a commercially interesting positioning and international scalability underpins Sentea's growth potential and, at the same time, the innovative top position that Flanders occupies in the field of photonics. PMV is proud that as a first-time investor it is helping to support this story.”, says Roald Borré, Group Manager Venture Capital at PMV.
Check out the news report about Sentea on Kanaal Z.
Fiber optic sensors use a specialty fiber designed to measure strain and temperature at multiple points distributed along the length of a fiber of up to several kilometers. A read-out system, also referred to as an interrogator, captures the optical signal from the sensing fiber and correlates it to strain, temperature, and derived parameters such as pressure, tilt, displacement, vibration and even current and the presence of certain chemicals. The inherent advantages of fiber optic sensors, such as light weight, small size, passive, low attenuation, immunity to electromagnetic interference, wide bandwidth and environmental ruggedness offset their major disadvantages of high cost of the interrogator. A step-change reduction in cost of fiber optic sensor interrogators will boost the utility and demand of fiber optic sensing in monitoring and process control even further.
Bridges can be equipped with fibre-optic sensors that continuously monitor their structural health.Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) is a process in which engineering structures are continuously monitored throughout their lifetime for early signs of defects or damages that over time could lead to catastrophic failure. By detecting any damage early on, and repairing or replacing the damaged part, catastrophic failure and the resulting downtime and significant repair costs can be avoided. Furthermore, the data gathered from SHM increases knowledge about the structures being monitored and allows for better designs for such structures in the future. A range of SHM solutions, such as fiber optic sensing, have found their way into engineering structures such as wind turbines, nuclear power plants, ships, trains, airplanes, buildings, bridges, dams, tunnels, heavy machinery and blast furnaces.
Silicon photonics is a technology whereby the functionality of optical components such as light sources, detectors, switches, wavelength (de-)multiplexers and filters can be integrated on a single chip. Having silicon as a base material, just like electronic chips, allows for using the well-established standard CMOS processes and manufacturing lines for production of these photonic chips. Decades of experience in the fabrication of electronic chips as well as a large installed base of semiconductor manufacturing capacity worldwide can be leveraged to scale up the production of low-cost optical chips. The sub-micron precision of microelectronic CMOS processes allows for silicon photonics chips to integrate a large variety of complex optical functions in a very small chip, enabling a wide variety of new applications and thereby driving a rapid expansion of the photonics industry.
The company was incorporated in 2018 as a spin-off of the world-renowned Photonics Research Group of Ghent University and imec to commercialize more than a decade of research in silicon photonics and fiber optic sensing. Sentea’s mission is to make civil infrastructure safer and industrial assets more efficient by enabling widespread adoption of fiber optic sensors. Benefitting from the advantages of silicon photonics, Sentea offers fiber optic sensing interrogators that offer high accuracy, compactness and advanced functionality, positioned for deployment in a wide range of applications and markets, hence enabling continuous monitoring of structural integrity to become the standard. Sentea is privately held by a consortium of investors including Fidimec, Finindus, PMV and Qbic II.
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