SiC optical nano-strain-meters for pico-detection in Geosciences

The project

The SiC nano for PicoGeo project, funded by the FET Open scheme of Horizon 2020,  aims to overcome the limitations of the current instruments for geoscience and geohazard monitoring. Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are major concerns for our society, representing a burden for people’s security and generating considerable financial losses due to infrastructure damage. Monitoring geohazards requires both an integration of different observational techniques and higher resolution measurements than those currently available.

Conscious of this challenge, SiC nano for PicoGeo, coordinated by the Institute for Microelectronics and Microsystems of CNR (Italy), will develop a radically new dynamic ground strain measurement technology with an ultra-high resolution of 10-12 that is about two orders of magnitude better than the presently available technology. The research combines the high performance 3C-SiC material with a high Young modulus (almost 3 times higher than silicon) that improves the resolution of the actual strain sensor, with fiber lasers for novel all-optical closed-loop operation of the resonator.
This design gives the opportunity to use an electronic readout far from the borehole and easily accessible out of the deep drilling.

The team of European experts from Italy, Germany, France and Belgium is committed to develop a new device intended for installation in the deep holes, which will be tested experimentally in real conditions on the Etna volcano, the most active volcano in Europe, to achieve an optimal design of the high quality and electronics of the strain meter.

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