This paper presents a novel platform for the formation of cost-effective PCB-integrated optical waveguide sensors. The sensor design relies on the use of multimode polymer waveguides that can be formed directly on standard PCBs and commercially-available chemical dyes, enabling the integration of all essential sensor components (electronic, photonic, chemical) on low-cost substrates. Moreover, it enables the detection of multiple analytes from a single device by employing waveguide arrays functionalised with different chemical dyes. The devices can be manufactured with conventional methods of the PCB industry, such as solder-reflow processes and pick-and-place assembly techniques. As a proof of principle, a PCB-integrated ammonia gas sensor is fabricated on a FR4 substrate. The sensor operation relies on the change of the optical transmission characteristics of chemically functionalised optical waveguides in the presence of ammonia molecules. The fabrication and assembly of the sensor unit, as well as fundamental simulation and characterisation studies, are presented. The device achieves a sensitivity of approximately 30 ppm and a linear response up to 600 ppm at room temperature. Finally, the potential to detect multiple analytes from a single device is demonstrated using principal-component analysis.
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