InPhoTech follows in Scope Fluidics’s footsteps to become another Polish business supported by the Foundation for Polish Science (FNP). InPhoTech’s potential has been recognised and awarded in a European Commission competition with a Phase 2 SME Instrument grant of EUR 2,153,000. The distinction is anything but a surprise, as InPhoTech has been a leader in innovation on the Polish market for several years now.
The company’s main focus is on optical fibres, a product that is widely used in many industries, including construction, mining, energy, defence, aerospace and medicine. Optical fibres make up the sensors that monitor various structures and buildings. The biggest challenge has been to design an optical fibre that is reliable in extreme conditions by being resistant to radiation and high temperatures. These are precisely the types of solutions developed by InPhoTech’s research team led by dr hab. inż. Tomasz Nasiłowski, a laureate in the first contest as part of the TEAM-TECH programme carried out by FNP under the Smart Growth Operational Programme.
The key advantages of optical fibre sensors are their small size and weight, compatibility with other materials, high safety level in potentially explosive areas, electromagnetic resilience, as well as a higher temperature resistance compared to standard electronic sensors. Another advantage of distributed sensors is that a single optical fibre can be used for high-precision monitoring of large areas measuring hundreds of metres, accurate to centimetres, or many kilometres, accurate to several metres.
“Distributed sensors have been made of glass optical fibres used in telecommunications,” Nasiłowski explains. “These optical fibres are easily available and cheap, but they have not been optimised for use in distributed sensors. As part of our project called NODUS, we aim to develop an optical fibre that is reliable in the presence of radioactive materials and very high temperatures. We are planning to achieve this by altering the internal structure of the optical fibre. Our unique optical fibre will be made of tiny capillary tubes and glass rods forming distinctive air-glass micro- and nanostructures,” he added. “We will use the European Commission grant to advance our technology, and to commercialise our innovative multi-core optical fibre, which will be key to large-scale deployment of 5G networks.”
High-precision innovative optical fibres could also be used in nuclear plants, nuclear waste repositories, as well as space probes and satellites. Moreover, they could facilitate the development of smart grids, smart mine or pipeline monitoring systems, as well as the production of smart, low-energy vehicles.
So far, Polish businesses and institutions have received EUR 479 million in Horizon 2020 programme funds for a total of 1,342 projects, accounting for 1.12% of the programme’s budget.