Silicon photonic sensors for aerospace composites manufacturing

A “Smart” Self-monitoring composite tool for aerospace composite manufacturing using Silicon photonic multi-sEnsors Embedded using through-thickness Reinforcement techniques

Project ID: 871875
Start date: 1. 1. 2020
End date: 31. 12. 2023
EU cordis link: CORDIS

Argotech’s role

Argotech’s objectives: To establish reliable optical connection between optical fiber and sensor and its packaging (shield the sensor from external conditions). That involves proper alignment of fibre over sensor micro-lensed head, full sensor assembly in metal rod and cost analysis of proposed assembly solution.

Optical assembly of optical fiber and SiPh sensor and their packaging (shield the sensor from external conditions). That involves proper alignment of fibre over sensor micro-lensed head, full sensor assembly in metal rod and cost analysis of proposed assembly solution.

Project description

An increase in airline traffic, coupled with rising fuel costs and strict environmental regulations, is driving the increased use of composite materials in the aerospace industry. Using silicon photonic multi-sensors, the EU-funded SEER project is developing smart self-monitoring composite tools to measure process and material parameters. 

The aim is to leverage machine learning to provide unprecedented reliability of the cured part while significantly cutting costs through preventive maintenance of the tools. 

Specifically, the project will develop miniature photonic sensors to embed in the tool with through-the-thickness techniques that minimise alteration of the tool’s structural integrity. The sensors will be capable of providing temperature, refractive index and pressure data of the composite part without compromising its structure. It will also provide a part quality fingerprint, ensuring the quality of the part based on the undergone curing process. 

The SEER solution will be made compatible with existing composite manufacturing and measurement methods.


To develop SiPh multi-sensor and it’s integration to resin molds used in composite parts manufacturing for aerospace. SEER aims to develop smart self-monitoring composite tools, able to measure process and material parameters and, thus, to provide real-time process control with unprecedented reliability.

SEER consortium will achieve this by:

  1. developing miniature photonic sensors,
  2. embedding those sensors in the tool with through-the-thickness techniques which minimise alteration of the structural integrity of the tool itself and
  3. optimising the manufacturing control system through the implementation of a prototype process monitoring, optimisation, and process control unit.

SEER will adopt a multi-sensor approach that will comprise a temperature, a refractive index, and a pressure sensor, operating in the near infrared and all integrated on a miniature photonic integrated circuit (PIC). 

The SEER solution will be compatible with and optimise existing composite manufacturing methods and its reuse for several resin curing cycles will increase efficiency and save resources. The embedded PIC sensors in a reusable tool will cater perfectly to address pre-processing and will use acquired raw data for process optimisation, using theoretical models and machine learning algorithms, establishing for each tool a link between the sensor data, material state models, process parameters, as well as degradation of the tool. This will allow efficient preventive maintenance of the tool with less effort and provide insight on better tool design. Finally, the acquired data from quality testing of cured parts will be used to optimise the process control ensuring further enhance in the quality yield and will provide with a part quality fingerprint.


ICCS, Institure of Communication and Computer systems, Greece


Aernnova Engineering Division SAU, Spain
Airtificial Aerospace & Defense SAU, Spain
Brunel Composites Centre, United Kingdom
Cranfield University, United Kingdom
ETS – Engineering Technology Solutions EE, Greece
HPHOS – Hellenic Photonics Cluster
IMEC – Interuniversitair Micro-Electronica Centrum, Belgium
Loiretech Ingenerie, France
TWI Limited, United Kingdom

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme
under grant agreement no. 871875.