Fundació URV

New optical sensor, system and method of detecting ice on a surface

Posted by Fundació URVResponsive · Innovative Products and Technologies · Spain

Summary of the technology

The optical sensor, size of few millimetres, should be flush mounted in surfaces as the wings and flaps of an airplane, wind turbines, cooling chambers, and other surfaces. The sensor is be able to detect ice appearing in early stages of nucleation with micrometric sensitivity on any surface. The sensor allows the generation of an ice map if sensors are installed in array.

Description of the technology

We have developed an innovative and new optical sensor for detecting ice appearing on a surface. This sensor is able to detect the ice in early stages of nucleation with micrometric sensitivity. This sensor can be applied in various fields as an aeronautical industry, the industry of wind turbines or the shipbuilding industry. We are interested in licensing the sensor.


This sensor is based on a confined light propagation in a micrometer size waveguide at any area close to the surface where it should detect the ice. The waveguide allows that when the weather or thermodynamic conditions of the environment induce icing on a surface, then an abrupt increase in radiative losses of the guide is detected. This change in the transmitted optical signal is detected and transmitted immediately to a sensor generating an automatic signal to activate the anti-icing system or to activate an alarm to indicate icing.

Main advantages of its use

  • Detection of ice in situ: in contrast to other widely used sensors that detect ice on a given surface and they extrapolate the result to other surfaces.
  • High precision: the sensor has a micrometric sensitivity. The sensor is able to detect icing in their early stages of nucleation.
  • High sensitivity: the sensor detects icing when its thickness does not exceed few microns.
  • Small size: the sensor is sufficiently small to be able to be installed on any surface.
  • The sensor allows the generation of an ice map if sensors are installed in array.
  • The sensor does not need the presence of air flow, and it can detect icing without movement.
  • This sensor is able to detect icing on any surface.


  • Application in ships, naval structures and other subsea applications on which it can be suitable to detect icing.
  • Detection of icing in wind turbines.
  • Detection of icing on any aerodynamic element of an airplane, plane, or helicopter.
  • Icing detection in conduction of water. The market of this technology would be the aeronautical industry, the manufacturer industry of wind turbines, shipbuilding industry and the manufacturer industry of refrigeration and similar.
  • Icing detection in refrigerators, cooling chambers and similar.

Related keywords

  • Water Transport
  • Some other electronics related
  • Other industrial automation
  • Water
  • refrigerators
  • cooling
  • wind turbines
  • aviation
  • helicopter
  • planes
  • airplane
  • aeronautics
  • aeronautical

About Fundació URV

Technology Transfer Office from Spain

The Technology Transfer and Innovation Center (CTTi) meets from the University environment the technological needs and services generated by the productive sectors and administration, through the management of Transfer of Technology and Knowledge, the Intellectual and Intellectual Property management, Technology Watch, Entrepreneurship, and Technology Infrastructures Offer (business incubator).

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