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Industrial sensing with versatile VCSEL laser solutions

In many industrial applications, industrial sensors and optical sensing can leverage the power and cost effectiveness of VCSEL technology.

Advanced VCSEL technology for industrial sensing in demanding environments

VCSEL arrays can be used in various production, manufacturing and automation environments and applications, including smart sensors, pressure sensors, temperature sensors and Industry 4.0 use cases. They are available as packaged high efficiency solutions in hermetically sealed TO packages for easy integration and can handle harsh environmental conditions. Within the industrial sensors market, VCSELs also power various other types of sensors and 3D sensors, including level sensors, gas sensors, image sensors, flow sensors, position sensors, proximity sensors, humidity sensors, automation sensors, and other sensors used in high-tech applications such as 3D imaging, industrial robotics components, monitoring and predictive maintenance, etc.

Why should I use VCSEL lasers for industrial optical sensing?

VCSEL lasers are reliable and high performance light sources for industrial sensing applications. Single-mode VCSELs in TO packages are a perfect match for demanding industrial environments. They are versatile, cost-effective and easy to integrate into manufacturing processes.

Made for demanding conditions

VCSELs are available in hermetically sealed TO packages. They are highly resistant to damage, even in the most demanding production environments in industry.

Precise control

VCSEL in TO packages are also available with integrated TEC and thermistor to precisely control laser temperature.

Available in various wavelengths

For a wide variety of application needs, versatile industrial sensing solutions range from 760 nm to 940 nm wavelengths.

Low power

The single-mode VCSEL platform is designed for extremely low power consumption and high output power.

Together with TRUMPF we developed a new robust optical 3D sensor for speed and distance measurement. Thanks to the VCSEL approach our customers can now solve measurement tasks for which there was previously no suitable sensor technology. This is also exciting because the non-contact process can be adapted to specific needs very easily via software.

Heiko Krebs
Senior Vice President Product Management, SICK AG

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How is VCSEL technology used for industrial sensing applications?

Industrial sensing has a variety of application fields for non-contact laser measurement technologies, including oxygen sensing, industrial encoders, atomic clocks, speed, depth and distance sensing, and proximity sensing in various types of machines.

O2 sensing and gas sensing

Optical sensors can measure particles in the environment using VCSEL technology. Single-mode VCSELs are perfectly suited for TDLAS (Tunable Diode Laser Absorption Spectroscopy) applications. Good narrow linewidth and wide tunability with TEC makes the single-mode VCSEL a great choice for TDLAS systems for monitoring, control, pressure measurement and other use cases in various industrial environments such as chemical and pharmaceutical industries.

 FTIR (Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy) Grafik, TRUMPF Photonic Components
FTIR spectrometer

FTIR, or Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectroscopy, offers fast optical infrared measurements with good signal quality. Temperature-stabilized single-mode VCSELs are well suited for FITR, with low temperature dependence of the emission wavelength (0.06 nm/K). In addition, the typical narrowband spectral emission of 100 MHz supports FTIR application requirements.


Optical encoders require highly precise signals and reliability under harsh operating conditions. Single-mode, polarization locked VCSEL solutions are the right component for the job, as they have a Gaussian beam profile, low power input, long coherence length and outstanding reliability.

Speed and distance measurement

Speed and distance sensing for accurate and reliable contactless measurement of media or objects is needed for a variety of industrial processes like length-to-cut measurement, speed control in roll-to-roll processes, printing (textiles, non-wovens, etc.). Self-mixing interference (SMI) VCSELs are the right solution. Since VCSELs with integrated photodiodes, or ViPs, include a photodiode that measures interference of the light signal, the system will calculate the speed of movement based on the frequency difference. The sensor directly detects speed and direction, as well as the indirect position and expansion of the part.

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The success story of SICK AG

Find out how SICK AG – the specialist for industrial sensor solutions – is making contactless measuring a reality for mass production in production systems with VCSEL diodes from TRUMPF.

Industrial VCSEL solutions (TO packages)

VCSELs in a hermetically sealed TO housing allow easy handling of the laser diode and are suitable for operation in demanding ambient conditions. 

Industry management TRUMPF Photonic Components
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