This paper demonstrates that epoxy-based single mode polymer waveguides with Bragg gratings can be realized in very thin (down to 50 micron) polymer foils which are suitable for strain sensing when integrated inside glass fiber reinforced polymer composite materials. The single mode waveguides were fabricated using laser direct-write lithography and the gratings were realized using nanoimprint lithography. These steps were performed on a temporary rigid carrier substrate and afterwards the functional layers were released yielding the thin, flexible sensor foils which can be laser-cut to the required dimensions. The Bragg grating-based polymer waveguide sensor foils were characterized before and after embedding into the composite. As expected, there was a blue shift in the reflection spectrum because of residual strain due to the embedding process. However, the quality of the signal did not degrade after embedding, both for 50 and 100 micron thick sensor foils. Finally, the sensitivity to strain of the embedded sensors was determined using a tensile test and found to be about 1 pm / microstrain.
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