Quasi-distributed optical fibre strain sensors
This thesis presents for the first time two complementary techniques to monitor the optical path length in optical fibre over both long and short sensing lengths. Both techniques may be used to measure the physical environment of the optical fibre, in particular strain and temperature, and are suitable for multiplexed operation. Signal-to-noise analysis shows that current optical time domain reflectometry (OTDR) systems do not fully exploit the spatial resolution theoretically available. A new OTDR technique exploits the theoretical findings to monitor the range of reflective markers in an optical fibre. Measuring strain in fibre sections of several metres is demonstrated. 100?m spatial resolution has been achieved with a pulse duration equivalent to 1 m fibre length and within one second measurement time. The first fibre Bragg grating interrogation system using an acousto-optic tunable filter (AOTF) is described. The interrogation system locks the AOTF wavelength to the wavelength of a selected grating. Measuring the frequency of the AOTF control signal provides an accurate measurement of the grating wavelength. A detailed system analysis is presented to enable the optimisation of system parameters. A wavelength resolution corresponding to 0.4 microstrain is achieved within 0.1sec measurement time, close to the resolution predicted by the system model. This technique allows the use of fibre gratings as sensors for the measurement of both quasi-static and dynamic strains. The combination of the two systems facilitate the utilisation of optical fibre to monitor a structure both over a few metres and at critical points. Both sensor types offer new measurement possibilities as embedded structure monitors, for example for in-service health and usage monitoring or as nerves for active control of smart structures.