Silica-Based MZI Sensor Chip for Marine Temperature Sensing

In an article recently published in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers introduced a novel Mach-Zehnder interference (MZI) temperature sensor chip based on a silica substrate.

Silica-Based MZI Sensor Chip for Marine Temperature Sensing
MZI mosquito coil structure. The light beam enters from the left and enters L1 and L2, respectively, after splitting. The beam propagated counterclockwise in the red part of L1 and passed clockwise in the black part. Finally, it was combined at the beam combiner. Image Credit:

Traditional temperature sensors face challenges in seawater environments, hindering in situ measurements in marine pastures. To address this issue, the authors designed a silica-based MZI sensor chip with a unique "mosquito coil" structure. This innovative sensor aims to overcome the limitations of existing temperature measurement devices and provide accurate and reliable temperature data in challenging marine environments.


Temperature monitoring plays a vital role in marine research and environmental conservation, given that fluctuations in temperature can significantly affect marine ecosystems and organisms. Therefore, it is imperative to develop sensors that offer innovative solutions for enhancing temperature measurement capabilities. By improving both the resolution and range of these measurements, researchers will thus be able to better tackle the challenges associated with monitoring marine ecosystems.

The introduction of the sophisticated MZI sensor chip represents a significant advancement in marine research and environmental monitoring. This innovative temperature sensing technology addresses a crucial need for a better understanding of the temperature dynamics within marine ecosystems. Its development is pivotal for supporting conservation efforts and enabling sustainable management practices in marine environments.

The Current Study

For this study, an MZI temperature sensor chip was fabricated using advanced silicon processing techniques. The silicon substrate was carefully patterned to create the unique "mosquito coil" structure, aimed to enhance the sensor's sensitivity and accuracy in temperature measurements. The core layer of the sensor, made from SiO2, featured crucial thermal properties such as a thermo-optic effect coefficient of -0.192 × 10-6/°C and a thermal expansion coefficient of 0.45 × 10-6/°C. These characteristics were key to optimizing the sensor's ability to detect temperature fluctuations.

Additionally, the sensor incorporated a frequency-stabilized laser based on a Bragg grating fiber as its light source. This laser provided consistent frequency and intensity, which are vital for accurate temperature readings. The sensor's operating principle relied on Mach-Zehnder interference, where the optical path difference between the sensing and reference arms influenced its sensitivity.

By carefully controlling the length and refractive index of the waveguide core, the sensor achieved a remarkable resolution of 0.002 °C and a measuring range of 30 °C. The study highlights the sophisticated design and engineering involved in developing the MZI temperature sensor chip for high-precision temperature measurements in challenging environments.

Results and Discussion

The sensor's ability to accurately capture temperature changes was evident through the correlation between temperature variations and light intensity changes during the experiment.

However, despite the sensor's high precision, the study noted larger errors in 10 repeated measurements, primarily attributed to environmental instability. This observation underscores the importance of controlling external factors to ensure consistent and reliable temperature readings.

The comparison between the MZI sensor chip and traditional thermometers highlighted the superior accuracy and reliability of the former in temperature measurement applications. The discussion emphasized the significance of the sensor's innovative design and interference structure in overcoming the limitations of existing temperature sensors, particularly in challenging marine environments.

The MZI sensor chip's ability to provide precise temperature data with an improved resolution of 0.002 °C holds promising implications for marine research, environmental monitoring, and other fields requiring high-precision temperature measurements. Further research and development efforts could focus on optimizing the sensor's performance in varying environmental conditions to enhance its applicability and reliability in real-world settings.


In summary, the development of the MZI temperature sensor chip marks a significant step toward in high-precision temperature sensing technology. Through its innovative design featuring a distinctive "mosquito coil" structure and leveraging silicon-based optoelectronic advancements, the sensor has demonstrated exceptional accuracy, boasting enhanced resolution and a broader measuring range.

The study's outcomes underscore the MZI sensor chip's potential to surmount the constraints of conventional temperature sensors, particularly in challenging settings like marine ecosystems. By delivering heightened accuracy, sensitivity, and stability, the sensor emerges as a promising solution for applications in marine research, environmental preservation, and various industries necessitating meticulous temperature surveillance.

Future investigations could delve into refining the sensor's performance across diverse environmental contexts and exploring synergies with complementary sensing technologies for comprehensive data acquisition. Ultimately, the MZI temperature sensor chip stands as an asset for advancing temperature measurement capabilities and underpinning scientific inquiries in pivotal domains.

Journal Reference

Li, G., Li, T., Liu, Y., & Zheng, Y. (2024). A new Mach–Zehnder interference temperature measuring sensor based on silica-based chip. Scientific Reports14(1), 8657.

Dr. Noopur Jain

Written by

Dr. Noopur Jain

Dr. Noopur Jain is an accomplished Scientific Writer based in the city of New Delhi, India. With a Ph.D. in Materials Science, she brings a depth of knowledge and experience in electron microscopy, catalysis, and soft materials. Her scientific publishing record is a testament to her dedication and expertise in the field. Additionally, she has hands-on experience in the field of chemical formulations, microscopy technique development and statistical analysis.    


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